LIVE › 9-11:59 p.m. Sports Center Tonight
NEXT › 11 p.m. ESPN SportsCenter
Midnight ESPN SportsCenter
Updated: July 13th, 2014 1:59pm
Zulgad: How much does Love want to win? We might be about to find out

Zulgad: How much does Love want to win? We might be about to find out

SportsWire Daily

Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports

Signup!
by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

The reaction was immediate and, in many ways, logical.

LeBron James' decision to return to Cleveland on Friday, meant that one of the next next dominoes to fall would be for the Timberwolves to deal Kevin Love to the Cavaliers in a package that included first-overall pick Andrew Wiggins.

The first hiccup in this assumption has been what appears to be the Cavaliers' reluctance to part with Wiggins. ESPN.com reported Friday that Cleveland's initial offer for the disgruntled Love would be Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick. Cleveland coach David Blatt told reporters he is unaware of any plan to deal Wiggins.

All of this also could be true. It also could be the normal posturing that goes on in these types of discussions.

But there is another factor to keep in mind when it comes to Love landing in Ohio.

James reportedly signed only a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the Cavaliers and his intention is to re-sign with the franchise before the 2016-17 season when new television money will increase how much can be paid in a maximum contract.

What does this mean for Love? Simple: If the Cavaliers eventually relent and agree to include Wiggins in a trade with Minnesota, we're about to find out how much Love really wants to win.

There are a few factors that go into the thought process in the above paragraph.

The first is whether Love would be willing to commit to Cleveland long term when he knows that James is signed for only two seasons? Marc Stein of ESPN.com has reported that Love is "intrigued" and would commit long term to the Cavs if James came on board. But that bit of information, which was tweeted in June, came when the assumption was that James would be signing a longer deal.

At this point, everything involving James and the Cavs is a feel-good story, including the relationship between the star player and owner Dan Gilbert.

Consider this a second marriage and honeymoon of sorts. The first marriage ended with James' Decision and Gilbert's even worse decision to write the open letter to LeBron. You would think this time James and Gilbert's relationship will last until the end of the former's playing career, but there are no absolute assurances.

Does Love want to be playing under a long-term deal in Cleveland if things turn toxic between LeBron and Gilbert?

If he really wants to win, Love won't care. If the Wolves can work the deal they want, Love will take the money he can get and jump at the chance to join a Cavaliers team that short-term would appear to have an excellent opportunity to breeze to the Eastern Conference finals as early as next season.

Of course, the money the Cavaliers could offer Love also becomes a factor.

Whether Love realizes it, he will have the best chance to win if he's not the main man on his team. Love could be considered a 1B or the second-best player on the roster, but he has never shown the mental makeup of a take-charge 1A winner.

This means that if he wants to pursue titles, Love will accept the fact he shouldn't be the highest-paid guy on his team. A 1B-type player doesn't deserve 1A-type money.

If the Cavaliers don't relent on giving up Wiggins, this won't matter. The Wolves would be foolish to make a trade that doesn't involve him. But if the Cavaliers do include Wiggins, Love might have to make an interesting decision about just how much he wants to win in the short-term, even if it means taking less money or not getting any real assurances regarding James for the long term.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Kevin Love
10886