The Cavaliers are exactly halfway into their first season after trading the past two No. 1 overall picks in the NBA draft and another future first-round pick in exchange for Kevin Love.
They are also 21-20, resting uncomfortably as the No. 6 seed in the mediocre Eastern Conference. Not much has gone according to plan, and Love’s play is among the things in question among Cavaliers fans and the national media.
Did Cleveland make a colossal blunder in trading for Love? A recent ESPN.com Insider piece seems to think so. It’s headlined “Best trade fits for Kevin Love,” and yes, author Tom Haberstroh is entirely serious.
It’s time to pick up the phone and see what you can get for Love. … He’s not a great fit on the roster, one with no rim protector. The coach obviously doesn’t trust him in late-game situations. If you don’t trade him, you run the risk of watching him walk for nothing this summer. You can’t afford to be stuck in that situation, and right now, the Cavs are going down that path. If things continue down this road, a Love deal has to be considered. The general manager’s job is to prepare for every scenario and look at the options.
The author then outlines four trade possibilities — to Golden State, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and New Orleans. While Love would still fetch value in return, none of it would be as close to as good as what Minnesota appears to have in Andrew Wiggins.
We have to imagine Cleveland actually trading Love is far-fetched. This isn’t just a one-year experiment, and there is plenty of time for the Cavs to figure things out. That said, the notion that this sort of thing is even being thrown out as a possibility speaks to how poorly this trade has worked out, so far, for Cleveland.
Over the next two weeks, we will take a position-by-position look at where the Vikings stand heading into the offseason after their 7-9 season in 2014. Today, we start with the quarterbacks.
The Vikings entered training camp last July with three quarterbacks and little certainty as to which one would start the season behind center. The team two months prior had selected Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the draft, and inconsistent veterans Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder returned. Head coach Mike Zimmer declared that it would be a three-way camp competition, but if Ponder was actually in the race, he quickly dropped out of contention.
Cassel, who arrived in Mankato atop the depth chart, kept hold of the starting gig with a sharp camp and preseason. But after an efficient performance in Week 1 and a four-interception afternoon in Week 2, Cassel was lost for the season with a fractured foot in Week 3. The Bridgewater era began.
As is expected of rookies, Bridgewater was up and down early, the lowest point probably being the five total interceptions he threw in back-to-back losses in October. But Bridgewater showed steady improvement and threw at least one touchdown pass in his final 10 games to finish his first season as a pro with 2,919 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and an impressive 6-6 record as a starter.
Needless to say, there will be no quarterback competition this summer. The job is Bridgewater’s.
ONE REASON FOR OPTIMISM: By playing with poise in spite of a subpar supporting cast without suspended running back Adrian Peterson, Bridgewater gave hope that he could be the long-term solution at quarterback. And the fact that offensive coordinator Norv Turner plans to stick around for a couple more seasons bodes well for Bridgewater as he strives to blossom as a young passer.
ONE REASON FOR CONCERN: Bridgewater threw 12 interceptions in his 12 starts, including three games with multiple interceptions. To be fair, at least a couple of those interceptions ricocheted off a receiver first. But Bridgewater will be looking to cut down on the turnovers in his second season.
GRADES WITH A GRAIN OF SALT: Since the Vikings (understandably) won’t make their player grades public, we turn to Pro Football Focus, whom some players and coaches have been critical of. For context with these grades, a grade of 0.0 is considered average. Positive grades are good. Negative grades are not. Bridgewater led the way with a plus-4.5, which ranked 15th among all NFL quarterbacks. Cassel graded as a negative-7.5 in three starts. Ponder was a negative-4.4 in one.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT: 64.4 — completion percentage for Bridgewater, third all-time among rookies. Only Ben Roethlisberger and Robert Griffin III completed a higher percentage as rookies.
POTENTIAL DEPARTURES: Ponder is a goner after four seasons in Minnesota. He never lived up to his draft position, but it seems likely that another NFL team will believe it can coax better play out of him. Cassel is expected to be back as the backup despite a $4.75 million cap number in 2015.
OFFSEASON LEVEL OF NEED: Low. The Vikings look to be in pretty good shape with Bridgewater and Cassel, an above-average backup option. But they may look to add a third QB to replace Ponder given Turner’s stated preference of carrying three. That passer would likely profile as a developmental type, whether he is a late pick, an undrafted free agent or an inexperienced young veteran like Pat Devlin, who will be around this spring after finishing 2014 on the practice squad.