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Cavaliers have to trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love

Teams should only deal No. 1 picks under extraordinary circumstances. This is an extraordinary circumstance.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In normal circumstances, Cleveland ought to cling tightly to Andrew Wiggins, much as it clung tightly to Kyrie Irving over the past three years. Usually, you keep the potential superstar on a rookie deal instead of chasing an older superstar on a hefty contract. It's pretty basic fare in NBA decision-making: stars on rookie deals are some of the most valuable assets you can find. They are fairly rare, and to be treasured.

But these aren't normal circumstances. They say that "the exception proves the rule." This is one of those situations.

You don't look a gift horse in the mouth, and LeBron James was one heckuva gift horse. When you land the best player in the world in free agency, you throw the rulebook out of the window. With LeBron, Cleveland isn't thinking long-term. It can't.

James signed a two-year contract, and no one doubts that if he finds the current situation unsuitable, he'll bail in 2016. (How could anyone doubt that after he's changed teams in free agency twice in two opportunities?) With LeBron on a short deal, you build for right freaking now.

And right now, Love is almost assuredly going to be more productive than Wiggins. Even the best rookies (like LeBron in 2003-04) struggle to perform like stars. Kevin Love, meanwhile, hasn't struggled to perform in years. He's the second-best shooting big man in the league (behind Dirk Nowitzki) and the NBA's top rebounder. He's also just 25 years old, at the front end of his age-based projected prime.

Win Shares are imperfect, but the top mark for a rookie no older than 20 years old in the modern era is Magic Johnson's 10.5 in 1979-80. Love had 50 percent more Win Shares last season. That's a huge gap, and that's also Love playing with a lesser supporting cast than he'd have in Cleveland and, again, the best 20-or-younger rookie season in the modern era. LeBron had five Win Shares in his rookie year, or a third of what Love had last season.

One of the lessons of 2010 is that you do whatever it takes to support your superstar with suitable co-stars. Cleveland under Danny Ferry didn't, Pat Riley did and LeBron bailed. The Cavaliers have a second chance. Wiggins is probably going to be awesome ... in a couple of years. Love is awesome right now. There's no reason for Cleveland to blow this second chance with such an attractive star seemingly available to be LeBron's sidekick. This isn't a second-tier star we're all trying to convince ourselves is awesome. Love is objectively fantastic and would boost Cleveland's championship aspirations greatly.

There's also no reason for the Timberwolves to look a gift horse in the mouth. Grabbing Wiggins in a Love deal right now is one helluva way to kickstart a rebuild and end that playoff drought soon. While it makes sense to try to get Cleveland to take on a bad contract or two along with Love, at the end of the day, you do not pass up Wiggins this summer. Once the Cavaliers made Wiggins available, there should be no dealbreakers from the Minnesota side. Take Wiggins and run.


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