Kevin Love trade was a shortsighted gamble that will haunt Cleveland

Kevin Love Opts Out; Batum Traded

Before the Cleveland Cavaliers stepped on the basketball court last season, they were at a crossroads that would have far-reaching implications on the franchise's future.

Cleveland chose to adopt a win-now mentality, sending the past two No. 1 overall picks -- Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett -- to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for All-Star forward Kevin Love.

With LeBron James making his highly-anticipated return to Cleveland, the organization saw Love as the missing piece to a championship team. They were wrong.

Love was not bad, per se, but one thing was very evident: he did not have an established role on his new team. James is the best basketball player in the planet, and he prefers to work in and around the post. This often left Love stranded at the 3-point line.

The 26-year old power forward is a good shooter from outside, but that is not where his strengths lie. His biggest offensive weapons are an arsenal of post moves and his rebounding ability. Cleveland's offense does not allow him to use either consistently enough to be fully effective.

Love missed the majority of the Cavaliers' playoff run after being sidelined with a dislocated shoulder that he suffered in the first round against the Boston Celtics. The injury is nothing to hold against him whatsoever, but if he turns out to be a one-year rental, it is safe to call the trade an absolute disaster.

The rumors that Love could be leaving Cleveland after one season became a very real possibility this week, as he opted out of his contract on Wednesday.

The team still has an opportunity to re-sign him this offseason, but it is not a foregone conclusion that bringing Love back is the Cavs' top priority. Reports have emerged that Cleveland is looking to shop him in potential sign-and-trade deals. In doing so, they could add more depth to their roster, something they could have desperately used in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins is blossoming into a star in Minnesota, and you cannot help but imagine that his diverse skill set would have drastically improved a team that rode on LeBron's back to the brink of an NBA Championship.

Wiggins excels on the wing, something that would have played perfectly to Cleveland's style of play. He is already one of the most athletic players in the league, and his ability to keep opponents honest with his jump shot makes him the type of multidimensional weapon that teams look to build their future around.

Aside from the talent he could have immediately brought to the team, Wiggins would have been the perfect player to carry the torch for the Cavaliers, as he will be in the midst of his prime by the time James ends his legendary NBA career.

Love could return to Cleveland, win a championship and all of the current drama will likely be forgotten. At the moment, however, that looks like a distant possibility.

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