CLEVELAND — Andrew Wiggins has an NBA home. Maybe a temporary one.
The Cavaliers signed the No. 1 overall draft pick Thursday, a deal that prevents Wiggins from being traded for 30 days.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., has been linked to a possible blockbuster trade with Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love. But any deal now involving Wiggins can’t be finalized for at least 30 days.
The Cavs and Timberwolves have had talks about a trade involving Love for months, long before Cleveland selected Wiggins, the former Kansas standout, with the first pick in May’s draft. Those discussions have intensified lately, and the sides can still reach an agreement on a trade but nothing can be finalized until late August.
Now that Wiggins is under contract, the league’s seldom-used 30-day rule is in effect.
It was designed to prevent teams from circumventing salary cap rules. There have been restrictions placed on trading newly signed rookies dating back at least to the 1998-99 collective bargaining agreement. At that time, rookies were lumped in with all free agents into a rule that prevents any newly signed player from being traded for three months or before Dec. 15 of the next season — whichever is longer.
The rule was modified in the 2005 CBA, separating rookie contracts into a different category with the shorter, 30-day timeline between signing date and trade eligibility.
The spirit behind the rule is that if a rookie is traded immediately after he signs, it gives the appearance that the acquiring team is the one that is in fact signing him.
Cleveland’s decision to sign Wiggins actually makes it easier to trade him. Before his deal, he had zero value on the salary cap but his contract — worth $5.5 million — could allow the Cavs to clear enough room to take on a player like Love, who is sent to earn $15.7 million next season.
Minnesota has received offers from other teams, including the Chicago Bulls, who reached out to the Timberwolves this week, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who requested anonymity because the teams were not publicly commenting on the process.
With Wiggins unable to be moved by Cleveland for a month, it’s possible other teams may approach the Timberwolves to make a run at Love, a double-double machine and arguably the league’s top power forward. Love is entering his final year under contract in Minnesota and has said he does not intend to sign a long-term deal with the Timberwolves.
Golden State has also shown interest in the 25-year-old Love. But the Warriors have refused to include guard Klay Thompson in any offer, which has been a deal-breaker for the Timberwolves.
Cleveland had been reluctant to include Wiggins in a package for Love, but the team has softened its stance and may be willing to part with the 6-foot-8 forward with the 44-inch vertical leap.
The Cavs are interested in bringing in Love to form a "Big 3" with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That trio would make the Cavs an overwhelming favourite in the Eastern Conference, and potentially put them in position to win the city’s first major sports championship since 1964.
Cleveland also signed rookie Joe Harris, taken with the first pick (No. 33 overall) of the second round. Harris, who played at West Virginia, averaged 7.8 points in four summer league games in Las Vegas.
As the Wiggins-Love situation drags on, the Cavs continue to re-shape their roster. The team is interested in signing free agent Ray Allen, who has spent the past two seasons in Miami with James. On Thursday, the agency representing Allen knocked down a report that the NBA’s career 3-pointer leader was leaning toward joining the Cavaliers.
Allen’s agent, Jim Tanner, wrote on his Tandem Sports & Entertainment twitter account that reports Allen "intends to play for the Cavs are unfounded. He has not yet decided if he will play next season or for which team."