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Cavs Summer of Love Continues

Wine and Gold Officially Announce Deal to Acquire Kevin Love
Tyler Kaufman/NBAE/GettyImages
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

Forty-two days following the biggest free agent signing in the four-decade history of the franchise, the Cavaliers officially consummated arguably the biggest trade in team history – acquiring All-Star forward Kevin Love from the Timberwolves in a three-team deal that sends Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to Minnesota and a protected 2015 first-rounder to the Sixers.

When the 2013-14 regular season wrapped up, without a playoff appearance for the fourth straight year, the Cavs’ road back to the top looked rocky.

But if you agree with the statement that math is the language of nature, it only makes sense that the Cavs’ historic summer revival started by defeating overwhelming odds. That happened 95 days ago, when the Wine and Gold (again) defied a 1.7 chance of winning and took the top pick the NBA Draft Lottery for the second straight season.

Since then, the news has been nothing short of mind-blowing on a seemingly weekly basis.

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Kevin Love’s six-year NBA career has already been prolific. It’d be difficult for any current player to match such a trajectory. You’d almost have to trace his rapid ascension to a guy like – let’s see – the player who’ll be starting at small forward across from him. Or maybe Love’s Pepsi-Max commercial co-star – and his new squad’s starting point guard.

The three-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist has a litany of basketball accolades so long, it’s hard to believe he’s only 25 years old.

In his single season at UCLA, Love was a consensus first team All-American, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, the Pac-10 Player of the Year and led the Bruins to the Final Four in the 2008 NCAA Tourney. After a Draft night trade that sent him to Minnesota and O.J. Mayo to Memphis, Love proceeded to lead all rookies in rebounding and double-doubles – a sign of things to come.

Love’s career continued to blossom, and when the Timberwolves dealt Big Al Jefferson before the 2010-11 season, there was no turning back. That season, Love made his first All-Star team, led the league in rebounding and was voted its Most Improved Player. At the following year’s midseason classic, Love outgunned Kevin Durant to win the Three-Point Shootout.

Last season – Love’s third straight as a Western Conference All-Star – he was somehow even better.

In 2013-14, the son of former NBA player Stan Love and nephew of the Beach Boys’ Mike Love averaged a career-high 26.1 points (4th in the NBA) on .457 shooting – going .376 from beyond the arc and .821 from the foul line. He also averaged 12.5 rebounds (3rd in the NBA) and a career-high 4.4 assists.

The 6-10, 243-pound Love – who once strung together a 53-game double-double streak – led the NBA last season in double-doubles (65) and defensive rebounds per game (9.6). He became the first player in NBA history to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 three-pointers in a single season, simultaneously setting Timberwolves’ team mark for three-pointers made in a season, points per game, and free throws made and attempted.

But for all Love’s dizzying statistical seasons, there isn’t a playoff appearance at the end of any of them. That figures to change at the end of his seventh.

The star forward now will team up with a pair of fellow All-Stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving – along with talented up-and-comers like Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson (who unabashedly claimed Love as his most difficult defensive assignment) and Matthew Dellavedova as well as skilled and seasoned vets like Anderson Varejao, Mike Miller, James Jones and Brendan Haywood.

Of course, the acquisition of Love doesn’t come without a painful loss. Dealing back-to-back No. 1 Draft picks is historic stuff. But once the Wine and Gold signed LeBron, they became big game hunters for the foreseeable future. And that meant having to part with a pair of promising Canadian youngsters.

Anthony Bennett, tabbed with the top pick one summer ago, struggled through a rookie campaign that started with offseason shoulder surgery. Bennett struggled to get into game shape and spent much of his first season behind the 8-ball. Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 overall out of Kansas, showed great potential on both ends during Summer League.

But both players are still years away from their prime. Kevin Love’s is just beginning.

The star power forward had worn uniform No. 42 at UCLA and throughout his NBA career, but that jersey’s been immortalized in the rafters by Nate Thurmond. Instead, Love will get a fresh start with No. 0.

The Cavaliers’ literal summer of love has been all about fresh starts for a franchise – and a city – that’s seen some dark days.

It’s been 1,563 days since the Cavaliers last played a postseason contest and 1,289 days since they snapped a 26-game losing streak.

Just 129 days ago, the 2013-14 season was wrapping up and the Cavaliers’ future seemed to contain more questions than answers. Many were wondering whether the Cavs could extend Kyrie Irving – let alone attract the NBA’s two best forwards, respectively, to Cleveland.

Over the past couple weeks, Cavalier fans have had to wait an NBA-mandated amount of days for the news that Kevin Love will be joining the Cavaliers – but it’s fair to say the news has been worth the wait. And like the day the LeBron announced his decision to return, it comes on a perfect, sun-drenched afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio.

There couldn’t be a better way to start what should be a memorable Saturday on the North Coast.

The Gladiators, who wrecked the AFL en route to a 19-1 mark, will play in the Arena Bowl at Quicken Loans Arena. The Tribe will face off against Houston in a critical battle at Progressive Field, the Browns take on St. Louis in a preseason matchup at First Energy Stadium, the Polyphonic Spree play the Music Box Supper Club, David Sanborn plays the Akron Civic Theatre and, of course, there’s Bell Biv DeVoe and Naughty By Nature at Nautica Pavilion.

Yes, it’s a good day to be a Clevelander and a Cavalier fan.

The only negative now is that there’s still 68 days until the season starts.

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