LAS VEGAS – Andrew Wiggins came to summer league to get an early education on the NBA game, from playing against better competition to learning about what his new coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers will demand of him as a pro.
The 19-year-old Canadian is also receiving a crash course in the NBA rumor mill.
Since he arrived in Las Vegas and found out LeBron James was coming to Cleveland with him, Wiggins has heard his name brought up in possible trade scenarios as the Cavaliers pursue Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love. They continued on Thursday, with several outlets reporting that the Cavaliers have decided to make the No. 1 overall pick available, a prerequisite from the Timberwolves to get any deal for Love done.
But two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Cavaliers’ position has remained unchanged and that no offer including Wiggins has been made to Minnesota. The people requested anonymity because neither team was publicly commenting on trade talks.
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“Rumors are rumors. That’s why they call them rumors,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “Sooner or later in one’s career, you’re going to have to deal with it. If he has to deal with it now, then so be it. It’s summer league. He’s learning everything as he goes along.”
Wiggins scored 21 points in 31 minutes on Thursday night in a loss to the Houston Rockets. He showcased his superior athleticism by creating mismatches and getting to the free throw line at will, making 15 of 20 free throws and getting one jaw-dropping, chase-down block in transition.
Several fans made remarks during the game about the Cavaliers getting Love, but Wiggins was unfazed. He was unavailable to reporters after the game, but Blatt said he felt no need to talk to him about the speculation.
“What you’ve got to like about the kid is that it doesn’t make a difference if it’s the fourth game of summer league in seven or eight days, or if people are keying on him or the crowd has funny things to say to him,” Blatt said. “He goes out there and really plays and has a nice calm about him and a real good demeanor. Andrew’s going to be a high-level player. It’s good to see.”
The Cavaliers and Timberwolves have been engaged in discussions since before the draft for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer. That stipulation gives Love tremendous influence on where he ends up, and he initially balked at joining a Cavaliers team that appeared to be in rebuilding mode after missing the playoffs and firing coach Mike Brown.
That all changed when James decided last week to leave the Miami Heat and return to Cleveland, where the Akron native played for the first seven seasons of his career. James’ signing changed Love’s mind about going to Cleveland and the Cavaliers again started conversations with the Wolves.
General manager David Griffin, Blatt and owner Dan Gilbert have to this point refused to include Wiggins in any offer.
That has been a deal-breaker for the Wolves, who want Wiggins to headline any package that the Cavs would offer.
It’s not known if James would prefer the Cavs to hold onto Wiggins in any deal for Love, his U.S. Olympic teammate. But what’s certain is that the Cavaliers will take James’ feelings into consideration before making any move. The four-time MVP is hugely influential, and his return to the Cavaliers has restored hope in a franchise that has been down and out since he left for Miami in 2010.
Wiggins has yet to sign his rookie contract, which has led to speculation that the Cavaliers were stalling on that front to make it easier to execute a trade. The minute Wiggins does sign the deal, he cannot be traded for 30 days under league rules.
But keeping him unsigned also gives the Cavaliers more flexibility to pursue free agents. They have already agreed to terms with veteran shooters Mike Miller and James Jones, and have reached out to Ray Allen as well.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have made it clear that without Wiggins – or an attractive deal from another team like Golden State – they are content to start the season with Love on the roster and see if they can make enough improvement next season to convince him to stay in Minnesota.