You’d think the Cleveland Cavaliers would notify Andrew Wiggins of an agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade him for Kevin Love. But that belief, apparently, is operating under the mistaken assumption that courtesy and basic civility exist in the world that’s kept Wiggins’ career in limbo since early July. According to ESPN’s Tim McCormick, the 19 year-old Wiggins didn’t know the Love trade was finalized until McCormick congratulated him on being dealt to Minnesota.
UPDATE: McCormick has since deleted the tweet in question. Here it is retweeted by Bleacher Report’s Benjamin Cruz:
Lol RT @TMcCormickESPN: Just Spoke to Andrew Wiggins – Said Congrats on trade to T-Wolves – He said I didn't know, is it final? Wow
— Benjamin Cruz (@cruzkontrol) August 7, 2014
Just Spoke to Andrew Wiggins at NBA Rookie Transition Program – Said Congrats on trade to T-Wolves – He said I didn't know, is it final? Wow
— Tim McCormick (@TMcCormickESPN) August 7, 2014
The NBA is a business first and foremost – Wiggins even supported that notion last week before answering a series of awkwardly pointed questions about a potential Love trade in a live interview on ESPN. But that sobering fact doesn’t make this reality any less ugly.
Everyone knows the rules by now. Wiggins signed his rookie contract with Cleveland on July 24, prohibiting from being officially traded until 30 days later on August 23. The Cavs and Timberwolves had already engaged in serious discussion weeks prior to Wiggins inking his deal. This trade has been in the works since LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland on July 11 and it became apparent the four-time MVP wanted to play with Love in the ensuing days.
We’ll never know why news broke that the deal was finalized halfway between the moratorium on trading Wiggins. The Cavs and Wolves have had its structure in place for quite some time; the only potential hold-up was surely whether or not Cleveland felt comfortable sending a future first-round pick to Minnesota in addition to Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. And even if that really was a sticking point on which David Griffin and company only relented today, that still doesn’t excuse the information leaking if the players involved hadn’t been informed.
Wiggins will be fine, of course. He’s notoriously grounded for a teenage phenom and both of his parents were professional athletes. Wiggins knows the pitfalls of the NBA, and is talented enough to avoid their influence long-term even if he’s simply putting on a brave face and actually being dragged down by them in the present.
But the failure of Cavaliers officials to notify Wiggins that he’s bound for Minnesota is emblematic of just how senseless it is that the moratorium to trade him is still in place. The 30-day restriction on moving newly-signed rookies is well-intentioned – it’s a corollary of the “Stepien Rule” that keeps teams from trading future first-round picks in consecutive seasons. Teams would surely find ways to work around the Stepien Rule if not for the month-long prohibition.
However, it’s only hurting the players and teams involved in this specific trade, and Wiggins is the party most affected. Love is suffering too, though. He’d likely be added to USA Basketball’s group of World Cup finalists if the trade could be officially completed. Instead, Love will be sitting at home – or working out in Cleveland – as his comrades fly to Spain to defend the FIBA gold medal he helped win in 2010.
The Love trade has become far uglier than it needs to be. That’s the bottom line here, and the Cavs’ most recent gaffe only furthers weeks of needless tension, suspense, and misinformation surrounding the talks.
We’re just glad it’s nearly over. August 23 can’t get here soon enough for all of us.
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.