I went searching for Andrew Wiggins in Cleveland last weekend. Not the man, per se—but the Wiggins hype, the Wiggins joy. A celebration of the new Wiggins era.
Because there had to be boatloads of excitement about the most anticipated No. 1 pick in years, right? There had to be banners and jerseys and novelty T-shirts saying things like: “In the Wiggin-ing…” or “Wiggin-a-win-again!”
I expected to see Wiggins’s face plastered all over Quicken Loans Arena, and maybe a dish named after him at the Harry Buffalo pub down the street—the Wiggins-wich, perhaps? I figured bartenders would see my Ontario driver’s licence and proclaim to all: This man is from Canada, provider of basketball stars, giver of hope to our city, saviour of our Cavs. He is a great man from a great land. And he shall drink for free.
My Blue Moon witbier was reasonably priced, but certainly not gratis. I didn’t even get a discount for Anthony Bennett. And no one even mentioned Tristan Thompson.
What the hell, Cleveland?
Instead, northeast Ohio was all “Johnny Football!” and “King James returns!” Slow clap for those two.
At the Cleveland Browns training camp—packed with more than 3,000 people clamouring to see TMZ’s favourite athlete—I eavesdropped on several fans engaged in a deep discussion about what the Cavs should do with Wiggins.
“We’ve got to trade Wiggins for Love,” one said—citing the much-discussed possibility that the Cavs will trade Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star power forward and Beach Boys relative Kevin Love. “Wiggins is going to be good. But we need Love now.”
And everyone agreed: Wiggins for Love… Wiggins for Love… But no love for Wiggins.
All the voices on the Cleveland sports talk shows were shouting the same thing through the speaker of my rental: WHY ISN’T THIS DEAL DONE YET?!
Well, first, it can’t happen until after August 22, because Wiggins just signed with the Cavs last week and can’t be traded for a month. And also, because maybe, just maybe, trading Wiggins isn’t a smart move.
Look, the pro-Love line of thinking makes a certain amount of sense. He will certainly bolster the Cavs’ lineup next year—he’ll support the best player in the game today, and instantly make Cleveland a top contender. That’s great for one season. But Love has only one year left on his contract, and he reportedly wants to play it out instead of signing an extension. That means he wants big-time, long-term, max money. LeBron has only signed on for two years, because he also wants max money when the salary cap ceiling rises considerably after the league signs a new TV deal.
But who knows, really? It’s all media-driven speculation. The only thing that’s certain is that if Cleveland wants Love for the start of the NBA season, it’s most likely going to cost them a franchise player in Wiggins. That and the fact that keeping Love longer than a year might cripple the team financially. They need more than two players to win. They need to become the Spurs.
James is at the peak of his career. He has a few years left of being ridiculously amazing, before he comes back to down to just being great—while still making everyone around him much, much better.
Look, I support making big trades to win immediately. But right now, the Cavs have the potential to become a legitimate dynasty (built on a few years without James and unbelievable luck with draft balls). Think about the possibility of Wiggins with James in just a couple of seasons. There are a few titles waiting to be won by that kind of tandem. Harry Buffalo would absolutely have to put a “King James-sized Wiggins-wich” on the menu.
Or at least wait for the season to begin and put some more pressure on Minnesota to make deal at the deadline, and then given them Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett. I’m just spit-balling here.
But, yes, it seems likely that when the Cavs are able to trade Wiggins on August 23, the Canadian star will end up in Minnesota.
No worries, then, I guess. Everyone knows that Minneapolis is way too cold for a southern Ontario guy to handle. When his four-year deal is up, Wiggins will naturally head south and come home to Toronto.
And then, well—you had your chance Cleveland—the real Wiggin-ing (trademark pending) can begin.