MINNEAPOLIS — The wait is almost over.
The blockbuster trade that will send Kevin Love to team up with LeBron James in Cleveland will be completed today, making the Cavaliers an instant favorite in the Eastern Conference and turning Andrew Wiggins into something of an anomaly.
When Wiggins is moved from the Cavs to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal, he will become just the second No. 1 overall draft pick to be traded without playing a game for the team that drafted him since the ABA and NBA merged in 1976.
The only other time it happened was in 1993 when the Orlando Magic traded Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors for a package headlined by Penny Hardaway.
The Timberwolves will also get Anthony Bennett, the 2013 No. 1 pick, from Cleveland and veteran forward Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia in the three-team deal. The Sixers will get Miami’s 2015 first-round pick from the Cavaliers and guard Alexey Shved and forward Luc Mbah a Moute from the Timberwolves in the trade, which cannot be announced until today due to a seldom-used NBA rule that prevents draft picks from being traded until 30 days after they sign their rookie contracts.
The Webber-Hardaway trade occurred on draft night, allowing both players and both teams involved to leave the venue that night with a clear picture of their respective futures.
Wiggins has endured a much longer, more awkward process. He suited up for the Cavaliers in the Las Vegas summer league even as speculation swirled.
Through it all, he side-stepped questions about where he was headed and steadfastly maintained the rumors didn’t bother him.
“Anywhere, any team,” he said earlier this month. “I can play anywhere.”
But Jayhawks coach Bill Self said he thinks Wiggins has used the Cavaliers’ decision to trade him as fuel.
“He’s handled everything great. He’s excited,” Self said. “I think the whole thing that’s been blown out of proportion a bit is that he’s been in limbo. He’s known since the summer that he’d be traded.”