The feeling of gently removing the plastic from a new electronic device. Getting into bed after a hard day of work, safely sheltered from all the world’s ills. Chicken parm.
Perfection is a rarity in the world, and we need to appreciate it when we come across it. Like waking a sleeping lion, the consequences of messing with perfection are swift, dangerous, and will surely result in a big furry mess.
LeBron going back to Cleveland is perfection.
It is crack for the NBA fan, so pure and delightful, although there’s far less of a chance of his free agency decision causing people to poop their pants. It is the story line for the 2014-15 season so fascinating that I think sportswriters are still pinching themselves, because now the Eastern conference is still quite poor at basketball, but now there’s a chance to talk about Redemption, Honor, Pride—all those capitalized words that we can now place on the greatest basketball player alive, rather than Shaun Livingston.
It was perfection, just like that warm comfy bed or the fresh chicken parm, yet Cleveland, being who they are, immediately moved on to discuss trading for Kevin Love. Suddenly the bed is populated by critters, and the mozzarella on the chicken cutlet smells like the feet of a thousand gymnasts.
Kevin Love is an excellent player, probably a top ten guy today. He is a rebounding machine, a sweet-shooting big man who calls himself a stretch-4 and actually lives up to the billing. If given the opportunity to land him on your team, you’d have to be crazy for not going for it.
But you’d have to be crazier for dealing Andrew Wiggins for him.
Andrew Wiggins, one of the most talented prospects since Durant, has been added to the trade talks. That’s Andrew Wiggins, the man as gifted as any prospect the league has ever seen, the young man who doesn’t know how not to smile. I’m pretty sure he is the result of a genetic experiment for creating the perfect NBA prospect. In fact, the truth isn’t so far off that—his father was an NBA player and his mother was an Olympic sprinter. He projects to be one of the great Andrews of sports, right up there along with Luck, Bogut, and Murray, and me, if the sport were “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.”
If the deal does happen, the Cavs will send at least their last two #1 picks to Minnesota before either has a chance to spend a full preseason with the team. Not only is that an enormous eff-you to the system that has incomprehensibly favored Cleveland, but it’s also enormously stupid. Wiggins is a generational talent, someone who projects to be AT LEAST an elite perimeter defender, and who, under the tutelage of King James, might put it altogether to become Prince Andrew, ruler of backboard blocks, spins through the lane, and owner of the quickest hands on either side of the Mississippi (depending on where the Cavs/Wolves are playing).
It would be a wonderful thing to see, a team full of #1 picks, fresh legs carrying LeBron as he enters the “mature” portion of his career, a real defensive presence on a team that sorely needs one. Kevin Love would help space the floor, yes, and he would gobble up plenty of rebounds on the defensive end. But he is not fit to protect the rim, or do anything to stop big men who have a clue what they’re doing on offense. That said, he would do well on Cleveland, for sure, because he is a great player and great players succeed when they’re paired with LeBron James.
But Cleveland would give up their long-term future, the bridge to the next great Cavs team, the guy who could potentially take over once LeBron is old and gray and his hairline falls to the back of his neck. And keep in mind that they would be getting rid of Wiggins, and Anthony Bennett, and whomever else they so decide, so that they can have ONE YEAR of Love. Yes, Love has said that if he goes to Cleveland he would re-sign, but what if he changes his mind? What if LeBron finally starts to show wear and tear after eleven years in the NBA, and what if getting rid of a few talented guys further depletes a bench that I’m not sure exists in the first place?
If Kevin Love so badly wants to sign with Cleveland, he is free to do so next summer. The Cavs will not win the NBA Finals this coming year with or without him. Think about it: when is the last time a team won after picking up their best player in free agency? How about after signing a new coach, who has never before coached in the NBA? LeBron knows the limits of this team—after all, he is a basketball genius—and he surely knows this. He even said so in his SI letter, in which he said he realizes Cleveland’s rebuilding will take time. The thing about taking time is that it’s hard. Why should I have to wait through 15 minutes of previews when all I want to do is watch rom-coms and weep into my $9 popcorn bag? But LeBron has been here before—remember, when he went to Miami, Wade was a top-five player, and Bosh at that time was comparable to Love now. And even they didn’t win right away, because it NEVER works right away.
Love-to-Cleveland is a shortcut, a desperation move on the part of team that should not be desperate. Cleveland just lucked into three out of four lottery wins, and the best player on earth came to them just because he “missed home.” When everything in your life breaks just right, that is the time to sit inside and watch TV. If you narrowly missed a horrific traffic accident by some stroke of divine luck, that doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a lottery ticket. When the person you are quite fond of texts you asking you to drinks, that is not the proper time to start experimenting with meth. And when you’re an NBA team that has done everything horribly for your entire existence, and when you happen to experience more luck than any team deserves, then you DO NOT go out and flip a bit of that luck for one year of Kevin Love.
Who knows? Maybe the trade wouldn’t really destroy the fabric of the universe. Maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson wouldn’t shed tears on his graph-paper notebook, lamenting the end of our days. And maybe we wouldn’t all be sucked eyeball-first through a supermassive black hole that envelopes the sun and stars and most everything else. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an organizational failure, a tragic split of two perimeter players who could both end up in the Hall of Fame, á la MJ and Scotty, and a half-baked appeasement to the returning King. I really don’t want to start a #FREEWIGGINS campaign years down the line, as he’s wasting away in the cold Minnesota tundra. We all wonder what could have been had the Cavs had the patience to stand still, just for a bit.
But the team will do as the team will do, and it’s looking like Love will be coming to town.