Saturday, July 12, 2014

Column: Wiggins’ future turns murky

Andrew Wiggins of Kansas stops for a television interview after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Andrew Wiggins of Kansas stops for a television interview after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)



Associated Press

Andrew Wiggins of Kansas stops for a television interview after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two weeks ago, it looked like former Kansas University basketball standout Andrew Wiggins was well on his way to becoming the torch bearer for Jayhawks in the NBA.

Today, that path seems a little less likely after Cleveland, the team which drafted Wiggins No. 1 in the June 26 draft, lured best player on the planet LeBron James back home, therein creating some uncertainty regarding Wiggins’ future in Cleveland.

One of the other big headlines Friday came minutes after James’ announcement, and it revolved around Minnesota all-star Kevin Love saying he would commit to the Cavs long-term if Cleveland found a way to trade for him.

While that’s hardly a shock — who wouldn’t want to play with LeBron? — it did bring Wiggins smack dab into the middle of this thing because, in order to get Love today, the Cavs likely will have to part with Wiggins.

Reports indicated that Wiggins was not included in Cleveland’s initial trade offer to the Timberwolves, which came less than an hour after James’ announcement. But there has been no indication that Minnesota was even considering that deal.

Whatever happens with Wiggins, this has nothing to do with the Cavs not liking or wanting him. They do. A lot. But the chance to land LeBron and potentially pair him with an already-proven all-star at a position of need trumps everything in the basketball-is-a-business world of the NBA.

And that could turn out to be a bummer for Wiggins and the Jayhawks. It’s possible the Cavs could be patient and wait for Love to become a free agent next summer before scooping him up. But given the speed with which they’ve made most of their moves this week, that seems unlikely. Beyond that, doing so would bring into the picture the risk of Minnesota trading Love to another team — they surely would rather get something for him than let him walk — and Love getting comfortable enough with that situation to say thanks but no thanks to the Cavs next summer.

The reason this is a bummer for Wiggins is because I don’t think his game and personality are best suited as the face of a franchise. He’s marketable, and he’s going to be a very good pro. But I think he would be best playing for a team like Cleveland that already had $90-million-man Kyrie Irving at point guard instead of having to be the main attraction and top scoring option night in and night out on a losing team. He’s not ready for that. And I don’t think anyone knows if he ever will be.

Wiggins in Minnesota is no better, for Kansas, than Ben McLemore in Sacramento, Thomas Robinson in Portland or the Morris twins in Phoenix. All are nice players with a chance to have solid careers, but Paul Pierce they are not. And KU needs another Paul Pierce in the NBA.

If Wiggins stays in Cleveland and gets the opportunity to work with, play next to and learn from King James, his already high potential to be the next great KU pro climbs off the charts.

If not, I’m afraid the focus for KU fans hoping for one of their own to follow in Pierce’s footsteps shifts even more toward hoping Joel Embiid’s recent injuries aren’t a sign of things to come.


Reggie Flenory 7 years, 11 months ago

The cavs are sstupid if they trade wiggins for love not that love isnt a beast but you dont trade a once in a generation player for anything ESPECIALLY IF YOUR CELELAND you need all the young stars you can get the cavs need to be patient hey have 3 first round picks next year love will be a free agent next year the cavs could just offer a max contract and not five up wiggins

after watching wiggs tonight im convienced that you pair him wil kyrie and bron that back court is going to be fun to watch

another thing the cavs need to look at whats going on around them philly is quietly build weapons of mass destruction on the eastern seaboard in noel and embiid in the next 5 yrs they are going to be a force not to mention davis in N.O and this greek freak kid with the bucks the cavs need to start building thier front court to contend with the other teams out east in the next few years as well as adding depth but you dont trad e wiggins NO WAY!!!

Len Shaffer 7 years, 11 months ago

Punctuation: it's a hot new fad. Try it!!! (There are also these other things you might have heard of called spelling and grammar …)

Curtis Lesher 7 years, 11 months ago

Len Shaffer: From Jayhawk Nation, please find somewhere else to blog and spew your commentary. Every entry you make is intended to give us your political views and commentary or to make a derogatory comment towards another bloggers lack of intellect or writing skills. Most of us read these comments to read what others think about KU's athletic teams' performance, success and/or failures during competition, recruiting, etc. We don't need your opinion about other bloggers' ability to blog, sexual preference, political beliefs, or moral character. I rarely get past the first line of your entries because they are usually not worth finishing. There are plenty of news and political blogs out there waiting for you to chime in. This site should be left for KU sports talk. So Len, Please prove me correct by making a scathing come back entry, attacking my moral code character or writing skills. NOW......who thinks Wiggins is really headed for Minnesota?

Dick Murdock 7 years, 11 months ago

Well, Curtis, I found Mr. Flenory's comment unreadable. Perhaps you are more versed in punctuation-less, poor spelling and grammar than I, but Len's point is valid.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 11 months ago

Matt, usually your articles are worthy reads but I have no idea where you are coming from with this. First off Love said he was intrigued by the idea of playing with James. I would imagine he would be intrigued with playing for about 8 other teams considering how far away MN is from competing in the NBA. Any team he is traded to is going to want a long term commitment, and with James and KI Cleveland is going to be very attractive to Love. MN asked for Wiggins and Cleveland said no. Do you think they might have ran that by James, someone they want to make sure is happy with the team there? If there is any possibility that he is going to be traded you sure don't play him in a D league game for 31 minutes Friday. James himself said there is no need to rush here, there is time to get the right pieces. Bummer for Wiggins and for the Jayhawks? Ok it would suck to be the main man in MN, but for the millions he we be paid playing, to wear shoes and whatever else he can pitch, I guess he is just going to have to get by on 5 million a year or so. He is in the real business world now, sometimes you do not like where you work, but you do it cause its a check. You hope its fun, you hope you get a chance to win but sometimes it just does not work out that way. He puts in 5 years and then moves on. Bummer for Jayhawks fans, what does this even mean? Our role in their careers ends with draft night. Going 1 and 3 is almost as good as it gets. Nice showing for our program and all but who said anything about needing another Paul Pierce to justify our school? We have good players, they typically go high in the draft to bad teams who are chronically bad, success is tough to come by with those odds. I am sorry but this article just sounded wrong all the way through.

Greg Lux 7 years, 11 months ago

Matt make his point ... I, on the other hand, don't think CI will let go of Wiggins. He is a special player who has a chance to be a REAL franchise player. You don't get a chance to get a really special player very often in the draft and now CI has two. James is proven special and Wiggins is unproven special, just how special is yet to be seen, but you don't trade "Special" players.

Tracey Graham 7 years, 11 months ago

Matt's main point is correct -- if the Cavs are able to trade for Kevin Love, it is more than likely that Wiggins would be involved in the deal. Golden State is also looking to trade for Love, and supposedly Klay Thompson would be the Warriors' player the T-Wolves are looking to get back in return.

in general, you can't trade for top-level players without giving up good players and/or top prospects. Like Matt said, the question is whether the Cavs would prefer to try and build around James, Irving and Love, or James, Irving and Wiggins. The other question is who would the T-Wolves rather get back in a trade -- Klay Thompson, who is already established as a very good NBA player, or Wiggins, who probably has the higher ceiling, but hasn't proven anything yet?

As for Wiggins being a once in a generation player? Well, that's TBD. He is going to have to become a lot more consistent than he was at KU if he has any chance of ending up with that label. The talent is there, but right now he's far more potential than he is a fully developed player.

Joe Ross 7 years, 11 months ago

So much to address here. Evidently some talking people down from the ledge of hysteria is necessary.

First of all, if Wiggs stays in CLE, there is no fear that James will be a black hole and suck in every bit of the attention. Every team with a big star has always had another other stars who shined. Jordan Pippen. Johnson Jabbar. Kobe Shaq. Duncan Robinson. James Wade. Malone Stockton. Bird Parish. Bird McHale. Bird Whoever. You get the idea. Playing with James is a great opportunity for AW, and his game and skill set only stand to improve. There is enough fame to go around, so there is no need to talk of the "Franchise Player". Therefore, and with respect Matt, Wiggins could STILL BE the "...torchbearer for the Jayhawks in the NBA." But I would hasten to add that this is not dependent on his staying in CLE and that THAT point of view is a bit hasty in itself. Wiggins' level of assertiveness was not stellar in college though his raw talent hid the fact. Going to the NBA is a different matter, however; and without aggressiveness as a counterpart to ability, stardom is not feasible. Even before the news about LJ, Kansas fans' hopes should have not been so lofty as to think of Wiggs as a player destined for stardom in the short term; but rather, that Wiggins' would adjust to the professional game well and that his aggressiveness would come along. Much has already been made of how Jabari Parker is NBA ready out of the box. He is. Wiggins is not, and the terms "potential" and "upside" get used a lot when making reference to his rookie prospects. Again, playing alongside LJ will only make Wiggins' maturation more expeditious.

Secondly, there is too much hysteria going around that AW will leave CLE. It's a possibility, sure. But reports from several team sources are indicating that they do not want to offer Wiggs in a trade. "Reading tea leaves" is a dicey affair, Matt. On ESPN many were saying that all signs were that LeBron would return to Miami. Why? He had just met with Pat Riley in Vegas. He had just flown with D-Wade to Miami. Prior to that, that the Big 3 in Miami had all opted out of their contracts. So on and so forth. You can't just say with any credibility that things "look like" they won't get done with Wiggins. This kind of speculative judgement is fraught with potential error. We simply don't know either way. Furthermore, there is still the possibility that CLE will give up future draft picks, including first rounders. I have no idea what level of cash payment could be made to Minnesota. At the very least, all the speculation that Wiggins will leave is not being generated by team sources (they have said the opposite, in fact). It is being conveyed by outsiders who are projecting their own interpretation of events onto the situation, and these are many of the same people who were surprised that Lebron left Miami in the first place.

Terrence Cernech 7 years, 11 months ago

Watched two of Lebron's HS games last night on ESPNU. It illustrated the strength of his game that has been there from the beginning and it is more Magic than Michael. But if LJ is Mike then Wiggs is Pippen and with Irving Cle is way ahead of where Chi was when they built their Champs. Love is a beast and a proven commodity but he's not Shaq or Hakeem or even Timmy. Lebron because he is more Magic than Mike he will have no problem not being the leading scorer (watch those two HS games) if he is on the floor he is "the man", he has moved on in his career to be more like Russell and focused on Championships than anything else. I think Wiggs is safe in Cleveland.

Andy Hess 7 years, 11 months ago

Cavs top brass already assured Wiggins yesterday that they will not trade him, so this is a non-issue.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 11 months ago

Is it in writing? No. Even if it were, they could break the deal. Promises don't mean spit.

Matt Bowers 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm with Rodney, Joe and Andy on this. Matt, this is not your typical article. One based "what if's," and drama is more Keegan's style. That being said, I think that Wiggins is safe in Cleveland. The CEO/President of the Cleveland Cavaliers showed up to watch him play. You only do that to reassure a player and let them know their position with the team is safe.

Wiggins will adapt over time to the NBA and become very special. LJ will help this process and Wiggins will find his niche. Should be exciting. He had a great game last night, not a bad start to a bright future.

Rock Chalk

Harrison Green 7 years, 11 months ago

If Cleveland is smart, they don't have to trade Wiggins. Lebron won't back out of his letter, and Love will still want to play with Lebron in a year no matter who he's traded to.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Fred Davis 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, reading this article it sounds like Wiggins will be lucky enough to carve out a Scott Pollard type career if he doesn't stay in Cleveland.

Sure, he's not a boombastic, in your face type of star right now, but to say that he's not marketable or can't be the face of a franchise is far-fetched. Did Kyrie Irving seem all that marketable out of college? Anthony Davis' unibrow was his second-most recognizable asset, and unless you're appealing to the less is more crowd, has anyone outside of a Bulls Lockerroom heard Derrick Rose wax poetic...?

To suggest that he has to play next to someone like an Irving if he's going to flourish is selling the kid short - how did Bennett look last year playing next to Kyrie? Sure, as a rookie, having a guy show him the ropes is great, but this kid comes from NBA pedigree, and he's a smart kid with great basketball talent. He has the tools to become a superstar. He already has one NBA talent that is indisputable - he's an NBA-level defender. And there was an excellent point made by the Big Lead on Friday why not to trade him - he'll be the guy to guard a team's best player in 2-3 years for Cleveland - taking some of the pressure off LeBron defensively. That's a huge plus for Cleveland. Besides, good, long perimeter defenders are hard to come by - just look at why the Warriors aren't willing to part with Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. (And living here in Houston, you see the flip side of that in a James Harden who REFUSES to play D and his team gets bounced in the first round and I believe that's a reason Bosh opted against signing with Houston.)

Finally, regarding the other Jayhawks in the NBA - I do agree, KU could use another Paul Pierce like talent. But let's not bury the TRobs and BMacs just yet. Granted no one is going gaga over Portland and SacTown, but let's not forget - The NBA is a superstar driven league. Ask Damien Lillard if he's hurting for endorsement deals. Ask LaMarcus Aldridge if people know who he is. And Sacramento has been an NBA attraction before and can do it again. It's not about where these guys are at - its whether they can play. The Morris twins are good, but they're not outstanding. TRob has been on THREE NBA teams in TWO years. It appears as though he's carved out a role in Portland, so that's encouraging. Point is, I'm not ready to start kicking dirt on either's career because of where they're at. The cream rises to the top in the NBA and if BMac,Wiggins, Embiid, TRob, hell, one of the Morris Twins, raises their game to the next level, trust me, they'll get recognized. Besides, Bill Self has put 12 guys into the NBA during his run at KU - you think that's got recruits second-guessing KU?

I don't.

Wiggins is going to be fine and I feel like the Jayhawks in the NBA train aint losing steam any time soon.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 11 months ago

First off, I hate the NBA. I really hate LeBron. His stupid "King" persona drives me nuts. Oh lets see what LeBron tweeted about World Cup. Who cares? Who did you vote for LeBron? Since you hold no degree I should hold your opinion in high regards. Look I love our former Hawks. Pierce is special. Many of our former players fit that as well. LeBron will never be MJ nor Wilt. He's not all the hype in my opinion. I know this is about Wiggins and I think he's a good kid. I hope wherever he lands he does well!

Scott Oswalt 7 years, 11 months ago

Hate it or not, Lebron is the best basketball player on the planet.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

You're right, LeBron is not Michael or Wilt. He's his own player who's going to be on the short list of greatest players of all time when he retires. Also, his style of play is a more in the Magic Johnson area of point forward, except that LeBron is a better overall player than Magic was.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

Aaron, I find myself often in agreement with your posts but not here. Magic's career lasted 12 years. He was first and foremost the Lakers starting PG but could have and did play at every position including the center.

Of course there really is no right or wrong answer but I'll take Magic and his 5 rings every time over Lebron. I think Magic's best year was in '87 when he won the NBA's MVP, his fourth NBA title, and his third Finals MVP. That was his 8th season.

James leads Magic in points but I think that's because he has needs to be the go to guy and he deserves the credit for filling that role but Magic as the PG averaged 5 more assists per game and equaled James in rebounds and still scored nearly 20 pts per game.

Like I wrong answer, two great players.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

Andrew Wiggins needs to tighten his handles quite a bit and improve the consistency of his jumper before he becomes a star. Assuming he stays in Cleveland (there's no concrete evidence the Cavs are willing to deal him), he will benefit greatly not having to step up immediately and can work on his deficiencies while being a sidekick to LeBron. In Minnesota, Wiggins would disappear into obscurity of a black hole that is the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Eric Dawson 7 years, 11 months ago

First, this article pains me to read because Matt was so offbase in writing "Andrew Wiggins was well on his way to becoming the torch bearer for Jayhawks in the NBA." He still is, and will be no matter where he ends up. Everyone will be watching #1 pick Andrew and, for better or worse, will always note his one year stay On the Hill as part of his upbringing. For Matt to write something that is simply so bad is uncharacteristic of him, but nobody gets it right every time.

Second, there has yet to be word one out of Cleveland about Wiggins being traded -- in fact, word out of Cleveland has been just the opposite. When LeBron said he was going home and the first hint of this possibility hit the media, it was not from the Cleveland organization, which said that Wiggins was not going to be traded. And today, new Cavs HC David Blatt said as much again.

"Sources told ESPN that the Cavaliers have informed Wiggins he will not be traded, and Blatt affirmed the franchise's commitment to the former Kansas star, saying he is looking forward to watching him mesh with James."

Could it still happen that the Cavs trade Wiggins? Nothing is impossible, but ignoring all the speculators who get paid to roil the waters regardless of their having any actual knowledge of the situation, aka every sports "reporter" out there without a real "in" (i.e., most of them), from what I am reading and hearing coming out of Cleveland, it ain't gonna happen this year.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

Wiggins contract for the first 2 years cannot have that much effect on Cleveland's salary cap. I cannot see a better opportunity to have another 'BIG 3' in Cleveland than with Love, LeBron and Wiggins.

And Eric Dawson, really good post. You made several solid points that I agree with.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, you folks sure can't handle criticism. Commenters dare not be critical of the author's comments or it will be deleted. Stop alienating and angering your readers with this nonsense.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 11 months ago

Again and in short, because it will probably be deleted again for no good reason, the Jayhawks do not need successful NBA players. They've done their favors, if any, while they were at KU, an institution which is already quite well known. They can help themselves and the NBA, not KU.

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