Washington Wizards: Long-term opportunity lies in a deal for Kevin Love

Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura Kevin Love (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura Kevin Love (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

If nothing else, a trade for Cleveland’s Kevin Love presents a prime opportunity for the Washington Wizards to offload John Wall’s hefty contract.

Through the first quarter of the season, the direction for this Washington Wizards team remains unclear. On one hand, they have a top-20 player in All-Star guard Bradley Beal.

But on the other hand, he’s playing with a team in desperate need of more talent.

Despite their 7-15 start, the Wizards aren’t exactly tanking. They’re playing to win (even if they aren’t) and recently had an impressive win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

If they continue on their current trajectory (somewhere in the 25-30 wins range) without making some sort of roster adjustment or trade, then things start to look more like tanking.

It’s apparent that Beal has no desire to tank this season. The Wizards’ All-Star has played all 22 games this season and all 82 in each of the last two. For Washington, maintaining their top player’s interests should be priority number one. Can they do that if they keep losing like they are?

Keeping that question in mind, do the Wizards take the opportunity at hand, and strike a deal for Cleveland’s Kevin Love?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Friday evening that the Cavaliers are open to ‘listening to trade offers’ for the five-time All-Star.

The question now becomes, ‘Can Washington afford Love? Or is Cleveland’s price too high?’ A look at a potential Wizards deal for the forward, and one potential longterm benefit.


According to Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for “a requisite package of young assets and/or future draft picks.” And the Wizards can offer both.

Any potential deal with Cleveland would have to start with John Wall‘s behemoth to match Kevin Love’s. And from there, well, things could get a little crazy.

  • Washington Wizards receive Kevin Love and Collin Sexton.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers receive John Wall, Troy Brown Jr, and a 2021 first-round pick.

If Tommy Sheppard is serious about Washington contending in the future, then this might be the best opportunity to offload Wall’s contract while still getting an All-Star caliber player in return. With three years and $90 million still remaining on Love’s contract, he isn’t exactly cheap. But he would cost the Wizards nearly $30-million less than John Wall, and they’d be done with Love’s contract a year sooner.

In Sexton, they get the opportunity to groom another young point guard, much like they did John Wall. Per 36 minutes, the 21-year old Sexton is averaging 21 points and 1.1 steals per game. Both areas where the Wizards could use the help right now.

Troy Brown Jr has failed to establish a role in Washington. Head coach Scott Brooks has played him in both the starting and second units but has yet to find the right fit. Cleveland’s wing rotation is relatively thin right now, and Brown has a promising future as a defender.

Why Cleveland Does the Deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers short term future is not the brightest in the NBA. While they won’t be competing any time soon, they did have a huge 2019 draft in which they took Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr, and Dylan Windler.

Those three, in addition to Larry Nance Jr and Cedi Osman, make up an exciting core of young players for Cleveland. But none of them are guaranteed to be All-Stars in this league.

Knowing that this team won’t win more than 20-25 games in the next two to three years makes the subsequent drafts all the more important. Acquiring a first-round pick for Love gives them a chance to add some additional lottery picks to their core.

And on the off chance that Wall comes back in All-Star form, and leads this team to a .500 record or better, Cleveland still has the assets to require more talent moving forward.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a long way removed from the 2016 NBA Finals championship. Making the most of this rebuild will determine whether or not they can return to those heights.

What Washington Gets in this Trade

In Kevin Love, the Washington Wizards get precisely what they (and Beal) desire: more firepower.

The Cavaliers big man has had a rough stretch with injuries in recent year, but when healthy, is a legitimate force in the frontcourt. Love is averaging 15.6 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 35.7 percent from behind the arc.

Inserting Love into a starting lineup featuring Smith, Beal, Hachimura, and Bryant makes for an incredibly flexible group that has three-point shooting at almost every position. Love’s knack for playmaking would be more than welcome in this fast-paced Wizards offense.

Per NBA.com, Washington trails only the Phoenix Suns for most assists per game, and they are the fourth highest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 117.7 points per contest. Now, Love is no Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and he has never been, but would offer help on that end as well.

People often forget that Love had the best defensive rating (102) on that 2016 Championship Cavaliers title team that also featured Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, and Tristan Thompson. This season, in Cleveland’s 28th ranked defense, Love is posting a 111 defensive rating.

On this year’s Wizards team, who are the worst defensive team in the league, his defensive rating would be the best one on the team.

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Without moving John Wall’s salary, any deal for Love makes no sense. But there’s a high chance that the Wizards’ longtime point guard doesn’t make it back as the exciting and energized player he was before the injury.

Making a move for Love now gives the Wizards an All-Star player they know can still contribute instead of one that’s a huge question mark. Plus, it adds another stud to the lineup to help keep things competitive during Bradley Beal’s tenure.