Mike Miller reached an agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a two-year, $5.5 million contract earlier this week. James Jones, according to multiple reports, followed his former Heat teammate to Cleveland a day later. On Wednesday, I joined “The Sam Bourquin Show” on News-Talk 1480 WHBC to discuss the impact of each signing. We also talked about the possibility of trading for Kevin Love. Our conversation is as follows, courtesy of 1480 WHBC, and I expanded on each of those points below.
Miller is a huge addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers rotation. The 34-year-old small forward appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the Memphis Grizzlies last year. He averaged 20.8 minutes per night off the bench while also making four starts for the playoff-bound Grizzlies. After battling injuries throughout his career, he appears to have found a renewed sense of health. Miller will bring his 45.9 percent three-point percentage to create much needed spacing for LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cavaliers, filling a gaping void left by the departure of C.J. Miles.
As I mentioned in the audio above, the addition of Miller is another example of James’ commitment to the Cavaliers. Miller could have signed for more money elsewhere around the league but decided to join his former Heat teammate on North Beach. He adds a much-needed veteran presence on the Cavs second unit, and I don’t think he ultimately inks this deal if he doesn’t believe Cleveland has a real chance to win big over the next two seasons. So welcome to Cleveland, Mike, glad to have you. If you hear about any jokes I may have made at your expense the last time you teamed up with James, totally disregard all that.
Jones is a nice veteran to have coming off the end of your bench on a minimal price tag. There is nothing wrong with adding an 11-year pro who has shot 40.3 percent from three-point range over the course of his career. But Jones will obviously not make the same impact as Miller. While there is some talk out of Miami that Jones was capable and healthy enough to do more, he only appeared in 20 regular-season games last year for the Heat. He attempted 11 three’s during that stretch, knocking down seven, before making 15 appearances in the playoffs. During the postseason he did connect on 15-of-32 attempts from long-range, though, so there’s certainly some upside here. At age 33, however, it remains to be seen just how many more NBA miles he has left.
Trading Andrew Wiggins For Kevin Love
Andrew Wiggins is a phenomenal talent. He is supremely gifted, overwhelmingly athletic and just about as exciting as it gets in terms of first-year players in the NBA. He will probably go on to become a great player and even an All-Star multiple times over. Whether he stays with the Cavs, or lands somewhere else, I’ll be rooting for him as long as he’s out there doing it. There is a whole lot to like about Andrew Christian Wiggins.
But if I need to trade him in order to acquire Kevin Love, I’m trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. My position on this has not changed since earlier this month.
I don’t want to trade Wiggins. But if you can go Kyrie, Love and LBJ … best of luck Andrew
— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) July 9, 2014
I can certainly see both sides of this argument and I’m not dying to trade Wiggins. The closer we get to the final season of Love’s contract expiring in Minnesota, the less leverage it seems the Timberwolves would have. I also realize that Love may not choose to re-sign with the Cavaliers, and that Wiggins is currently under the team’s control on a manageable rookie contract for the foreseeable future. So I’m totally cool with waiting this thing out and allowing David Griffin to stare down the entire city of Minneapolis without blinking in an attempt to get Love for less.
I have to imagine that Griff is capable of anything at this point, after essentially locking up the Executive of the Year Award in July for the first time in NBA history. But at the end of this staring contest, if it really does come down to trading Wiggins and other pieces in exchange for Love, I’m making that trade and never looking back.
I’m really not trying to oversimplify this debate, either. I understand the potential of Wiggins. I understand the contract implications of having a talented rookie like him under team control. I understand the luxury tax, salary cap flexibility and everything else. But Kevin Love is the best power forward in the NBA. You would need to renounce the Bird Rights to LeBron James in order to sign him as a free agent next summer if he’s not acquired via trade. And right now, Love–the best power forward in the NBA–could potentially be paired with the league’s best small forward and one of the league’s best point guards.
If you have the opportunity to put the best power forward in the game next to the best small forward–all running alongside one of the best point guards–you have to do that. Wiggins is very good, but lineups that begin with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and whoever else after that are once in a generation.
Bob Finann of The News-Herald reported on Thursday that the Cavaliers are “now willing to include Wiggins in a Kevin Love trade offer.” So this could get interesting pretty quick. I think that right now, you could argue there is more pure talent on this Cavaliers roster–as currently constructed–than any Cavs roster that LeBron James has ever played on.
By adding Kevin Love to that mix, it might be the best roster of James’ entire career.
Photo: Instagram / Mike Miller