Kevin Love trade rumors continue to swirl.The Timberwolves and Cavaliers have reportedly been discussing a trade involving Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins for the better part of a week. After initial trade rumors surfaced, Anthony Bennett was added to the mix as a possible piece in the trade. There are thousands of blog posts debating which team would come out on top if the deal happened but my aim here is to highlight some important points about the mechanical difficulties of the possible trade.
Currently the salary cap in the NBA is $63 million and the Timberwolves are sitting at $68.1 million and the Cavs at $57 million. Love will be paid $15.7 million for 2014-2015 and Wiggins will have a salary estimated of around $5.5 million when signed. The Cavs would have a total cap number of $62.5 million considering his contract. As you can see, a straight up trade (yes, very unlikely) would put the Cavs about $9.2 million over the cap. This does not consider the possible signings of Mike Miller and Ray Allen.
The NBA salary cap trade rules state a team cannot acquire players in a trade that puts them more than $100k over the cap if they are under the cap at the time of the trade. However, if they are over the cap at the time of the trade or the trade would put them over the cap, they can still trade so long as stay under the luxury tax limit and don’t receive back either more than 150% plus $100k of what they traded or 100% plus $5m of what they traded.
So in the case of the Kevin Love trade the Cavs could send out $5.5 million for Wiggins, $5 million for Bennett and is the trade exception rule to complete the trade. In this case, the Cavs can receive back $15.75 million (Bennett+Wiggins) + $5 million and the trade works for salary cap purposes because the Cavs would still be under the luxury limit. Working the deal this way would leave the Cavs well under the projected $77 million luxury cap. However, if they add in Mike Miller’s $2.75 million and Ray Allen (if he signs) it might get a bit more tricky.
The above trade would require the Wolves to acquire approximately $9.2 million more in salaries from Cleveland to make it work. So, there will have to be multiple players involved on the Cavs side of the trade for it to work.
The easiest way to for the teams to work this out is simply to send Wiggins and Bennett plus draft picks and the salaries lineup perfect. However, there very well be a sticking point in that the Wolves may be asking for another player or maybe if the Cavs are being asked to give up multiple first round picks they might ask for a player like Gorgui Dieng in return. It is very likely it could be more complicated than the Wiggins and Bennett plus picks scenario.
In any case, for any Kevin Love trade to be made the Wolves will have to take some contracts (players) back in the trade. The Cavaliers will have to pay a high price for the trade to work with the salary cap, both giving up good young talent and taking on a big contract.
If any of the above Kevin Love trades workout it will have a big impact on the roster that goes beyond the obvious loss of the best power forward in the league. As the roster currently stands the Wolves have 14 players of a maximum of 15. As stated above the Wolves likely will have a three-for-one trade and will have to get rid of at least one player on the roster as it stands. If it is a simple two-for-one and picks trade then no moves are required.
The players that stand out as the most likely ones to go are J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. If I were to guess who would go based on fan hate it would be J.J. Barea and his ball hogging chucking style. I think the Wolves would like to rid themselves of Barea after a season where he displayed terrible play and worse attitude. I think there is still a perception around the league that he can be a capable backup and perhaps that makes him the most likely on this list to go. If Barea were to go, Shved would be safe because it would leave Rubio and perhaps Zach LaVine as the only players to bring the ball up the court.
There is absolutely no doubt the Wolves would like to drop Mbah a Moute’s contract and even Kevin Martin‘s with proper compensation. However, I can’t see where any team would be willing to take either contract but at least Mbah a Moute’s contract is an expiring contract. They may end up, in fact, package a couple of players and taking back one to make the roster work.
While a the Kevin Love trade rumors seem very likely to be much more than that and in fact will almost certainly result in a trade, it will be a complex web of salary cap and roster issues for it to happen. The Cavs will pay huge in many ways, if the reported potential trades are correct. There may seem to be many moving parts in the deal, because there are, but if both teams want it done the salary cap and rosters shouldn’t be an issue.