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LeBron wants Love for Cavs

By Andy Greder

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s heating up.

With reports of Golden State and the Timberwolves reigniting trade talks for forward Kevin Love, another franchise’s possible offer appears to have more steam.

James wants to play with Love, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are now willing to part with Andrew Wiggins to make it happen, according to reporter Bob Finnan of the Morning Journal and the News-Herald in Lorian, Ohio.

After James announced his Ohio homecoming last Friday, the storyline became Cleveland’s unwillingness to part with Wiggins, the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. But a league source told Finnan on Thursday that the Cavs are now willing to trade the small forward, who just finished his freshman season at Kansas.

Meanwhile, Golden State and the Wolves have revived their trade talks, but the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday that Wiggins’ involvement would not be part of a three-way trade involving shooting guard Klay Thompson.

Finnan’s source said James wants to play with Love, a three-time all-star who reportedly has told the Timberwolves he will opt out of his contract after the 2014-15 season. In Cleveland, Love would be the last piece in a new “Big Three” with James and point guard Kyrie Irving.

Love is set to make $15.7 million in 2014-15 and $16.7 million in 2015-16 on a player option. James plans to sign a two-year, $42.2 million deal; Irving received a five-year, $90 million extension.

So, next season, James, Love and Irving, still on rookie contract of $7 million, would account for roughly $42 million of a $63.2 million salary cap.

With two-thirds of the payroll possibly tied up in three players, the deal might include a third team or additional Cleveland players to make financial sense.

Finnan reported the Cleveland offer could include Wiggins, Anthony Bennett — the 2013 No. 1 pick — and a future first-round pick. Bennett is due to make $5.5 million in 2014-15, and Wiggins is slotted to make about $4.5 million.

On Wednesday, Wolves owner Glen Taylor told NBA TV, “We are not going to move a superb player (Love) without getting equal or more value back.”

Taylor also told the channel his preference was for Love to come to training camp and work with new coach Flip Saunders to see if they can make the playoffs.

In Wiggins, the Wolves would receive a raw 19-year-old, who at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds is considered to be a top-line defensive stopper. In three games in the Las Vegas summer league, Wiggins has averaged 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks. He also has shot 38 percent from the field and averaged 0.3 assists.

Love, who has never made the playoffs in six seasons in Minnesota, averaged a career-best 26.1 points to go with 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 77 games last season.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.