Nov 19, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) dribbles the ball as Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 104-100. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love to Cleveland: How Will the Trade Affect the Washington Wizards?

Kevin Love’s name has been in the rumor mill for quite some time, and after six years of missing the NBA Playoffs with the Minnesota Timberwolves, a move seemed inevitable.

Love, who’s been linked to several teams including the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, will be wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey next season. Cleveland was reportedly reluctant to include this year’s number one overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, and last year’s first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, but the two sides came to an agreement and Flip Saunders will get both players and another pick back from the Cavaliers. Basically, the Timberwolves wanted to start over with a new, exciting young core, and they managed to get two first overall picks back for Kevin Love, who was going to leave town after this season via free agency.

So, the power has shifted in the Eastern Conference. No longer are the Miami Heat the conference favorites, but the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers have seemingly regained control.

But as we all know, it’s rare that things go according to plan in the NBA. It took the Miami Heat some time to mesh after assembling their “Big Three” which consisted of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh before they finally clicked and won two championships in four years.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are all coming into a new situation this upcoming season. All three players were the franchise players for their respective teams this past year, with LeBron James being the only one to make the post-season of the trio. Irving and Love have played for bad teams throughout their entire NBA careers and will have to get used to playing supporting roles next to the greatest player in the world. Now, I’m not saying that the Cavaliers will not be successful, because it’s nearly impossible to fail with LeBron James suiting up for your team, but there will be an adjustment period.

But, where does that leave the Washington Wizards in the standings?

Prior to the Kevin Love trade being finalized (it won’t become official until later this month), I thought the Washington Wizards had a chance to be a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season, which would give them home court advantage in the playoffs. As of right now, I think that will still stand.

The Chicago Bulls are projected to rise atop the conference, given the return of former MVP Derrick Rose and the acquisition of Pau Gasol, while the Cavaliers are still a bit of an unknown. The East has never been strong in comparison to the Western Conference and the Cavaliers are stacked with talent. Although they still have some major holes, such as their presumably weak perimeter defense and lack of rim protection, they obviously have the talent to make a push in the post-season.

With all that said, I don’t think the Kevin Love trade will affect the Washington Wizards’ place in the standings. Besides the Bulls and Cavaliers, the rest of the conference is pretty much at an equal level.

The Charlotte Hornets upgraded their roster by adding Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams, so they will undoubtedly compete with the Wizards and Miami Heat for the Southeast Division title. Miami, who could have opted to go down the losing road after losing LeBron James, also recovered a bit by adding Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.

The Toronto Raptors will also continue to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, as they have retained Kyle Lowry, while adding solid contributors like Louis Williams and James Johnson.

The Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and of course the Washington Wizards will fight for home court advantage in the NBA Playoffs. Washington’s team will look somewhat different next season with the departure of both Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker, while they will look to incorporate Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair into their system.

After making the semi-finals before getting bounced out by the number one seeded Indiana Pacers, who also suffered a big blow by losing Paul George to injury, the Washington Wizards have gained valuable experience in the post-season, which is something the other middling teams do not have. John Wall has already made it clear that he’d like to see the Washington Wizards make the Finals next season--a lofty goal, but a goal nonetheless.

Regardless of what happens next, this upcoming NBA season will feature a much better Eastern Conference with a number of very competitive teams.

How do you think the Kevin Love trade will affect the Wizards? Let me know in the comments section.

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