Shed no tears for Andrew Wiggins

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Wolves head coach Flip Saunders talks about Andrew Wiggins’ potential

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Don’t cry for Andrew Wiggins.

That’s the message delivered by the last two men who coached the No. 1 Draft pick. When the Cleveland Cavaliers finally shipped Wiggins — shunned by LeBron James since the day the King announced his return to Cleveland six weeks ago — to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love on Saturday, he joined Chris Webber (1993) as the only No. 1 picks since the NBA-ABA merger to be traded before ever playing a game for the team that drafted them.

A sad end to a long, strange summer for Wiggins? More like an eagerly anticipated beginning, says Rob Fulford, Wiggins’ high school coach at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

“Andrew is such a good kid; he’s just a classy kid, very humble, very respectful,” Fulford, now an assistant at Missouri, told NBA.com this week. “I think this whole process with the trade rumors, he could care less. That kid just wants to play basketball. The fact that LeBron never reached out to him, Andrew could care less what LeBron James thinks of him.”

Throughout this saga in which the Cavs selected the Toronto-born Wiggins No. 1 and watched him flash his promising skills during the Las Vegas Summer League all the while trade rumors swirled and LeBron sweet-talked Love, Wiggins, 19, handled the enormity of the situation with graceful maturity always accompanied by a warm, playful smile.

It didn’t surprise Fulford, who saw such characteristics from the time Wiggins arrived at Huntington Prep to enormous fanfare to the day he left for Kansas as a McDonald’s All-American. His departure included a heartfelt thank-you note to the people of the Huntington community published in the local newspaper.

“You have to understand, this kid, the media circus was around from the beginning when he got here in August of his junior year in high school until he left Huntington in May of his senior year after graduation,” Fulford said. “It was just a circus. I think it prepared him for what was going to happen at Kansas and even now he’s used to it, and I think he’s handled it really well. With the parents that he has, both have been professional athletes, I think it helped that he’s been kind of groomed in that manner.”

All Wiggins wanted, he reiterated during several interviews over the last month, was a place to call home, a place where he feels wanted. And so Wiggins will not flank the game’s greatest player on an instant contender in Cleveland, but instead will embrace replacing the fed-up Love as the next great hope for the long-languishing Wolves.

Fulford keeps in relatively close contact with the long-limbed, 6-foot-8 phenom, typically through text messages. The message he’s received loud and clear is that Wiggins is excited to make his own name for a franchise in need of a leader.

“Andrew’s going to be a superstar,” Fulford said. “This gives him a platform from Day 1 to kind of be the guy, and he’s ready for that.”

Earlier this month, Wiggins’ former coach at Kansas, Bill Self, said nearly the same after telling reporters that Wiggins had told him he hoped Cleveland would trade him.

“Even though, in a weird way, everybody would love the opportunity to play with LeBron because you’re guaranteed winning, for the longevity of his career, he needs to develop that mindset to be the guy for him to be great,” Self told reporters. “And I think being in Minnesota will help him do that.”

For glum Wolves fans, the Love fiasco has the potential to yield a happy ending after all. The greatest fear for an organization is it will never come close to recouping equal talent when forced to trade a disgruntled All-Star. Wolves president and coach Flip Saunders has reaped a haul as strong as anyone could expect.

In the three-team trade, Wiggins heads to Minnesota with the Cavs’ 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and Philadelphia’s consummate pro, Thaddeus Young, 26, a solid immediate replacement for Love at power forward.

They’ll join a cast that includes 23-year-old, potential All-Star point guard Ricky Rubio, veteran guards Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea, emerging center Nikola Pekovic, small forwards Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger, Wiggins’ fellow Huntington Prep alum and quick-learning 2013 first-round pick Gorgui Dieng, and high-flying ’14 first-round pick Zach LaVine.

The fit in Saunders’ up-tempo plans should suit the slashing Wiggins well. Fulford said Kansas’ high-low attack that included big man and No. 3 pick Joel Embiid didn’t always afford Wiggins the driving lanes he craves, turning him into a jump-shooter.

“He’s going to have more space to work with,” Fulford said. “And he’s extremely … I won’t say he’s impossible to guard in space, but he’s close to it.”

Love’s Wolves never made the playoffs, a six-year span that included exceptionally disappointing endings to the last two seasons. Nobody should expect a rapid ascension this season in the competitive West as the Wolves again transition, but young and athletic, Wiggins’ new team is stocked with upside and should be an exciting squad to watch grow.

“I don’t think there’s any question he’ll have a great rookie season. He’s groomed for this,” Fulford said. “In college he got better the year he was there, but he’ll be a better NBA player than he was a college player, and he was an All-American at Kansas, so sky’s the limit for him.

“It’s one of those things, him being on a team where it’s kind of really going to be his, I think, is a good thing for him.”

So shed no tears for Andrew Wiggins. Or the Wolves.

71 Comments

  1. TTKIN says:

    Lebron never reached out to him even before the rumor of him possibly being traded came out?

    Isnt Lebron the one who boasts that none of the great veterans (MJ or Kobe) reached out to him so he does that to the young stars now? And Wiggins was going to be his teammate!

    Lebron likes trying to show he’s a good guy but cmon, that was a d*ck move. I never paid attn to him omitting Wigs from his essay. I didn’t think that mattered. But he never reached out to him? Lebron reached out to all the other teammates and even free agents. Why not the young guy you’re supposed to mentor? Jealousy?

    • js says:

      BS . What was he supposed to say. The team already had the Love trade setup. All of you LeBron haters, get a life. Other than.the ESPN pep rally. LeBron has been second only to Jeter when it comes to professional athletes behavior off the bright lights of the TV Camara

  2. pkze says:

    I doubt v much Rubio is a “potentia all star” judging from his past performance.

    • The Truth says:

      I agree… Rubio has hit his climax as a player, not quite an all-star.

      As for the T-wolves they finally did something right. They got rid of a whiney, disgruntled Allstar that never even made the playoffs. I think the Wolves will make playoffs this year.

  3. Ms. Penny says:

    My choice was to keep Wiggins in Cleveland! LBJ will win a championship for Cleveland when it’s all said and done. My fear is that the $120 million to Love will blow out our cap, and no wiggle room to add anyone. I hope the GM really thought about that, because that’s the problem Miami had when LeBron was there. I wasn’t a Big fan of giving away all the young talent Cleveland had acquired. Now, I’m hearing TT will be traded as well. I would’ve rather had Greg Monroe and pay him half of what Love gets and a descent Center. The Center position will be key.

    • GZah says:

      There is no way Tristan Thompson gets moved. He is signed to Rich Paul’s label and in the NBA, there are *wink-wink* deals that take place… i.e. if you want me (LeBron) to come to your team, you sign my friend’s (and agent’s) player, which is TT in this case. Frankly, he is also going to get an inflated contract because of these wink-wink deals that many ex-players and agents talk about.

    • The Truth says:

      Yes. Bad move by the Cavs to sign Love at such a big contract. If the Cavs do not win this year or the next it’ll be hard to win within the next decade at all. Because you are now stuck with an expensive player that has never seen playoff action.

      • The More U Know says:

        …and you wonder why the Cleveland Cavaliers and ‘LeFake Brains’ never won a NBA title in Ohio’s U.S. history??? It will not hyappen next season or any season as long as the owner remains desperate to clinch a title sooo far away – HA (LMAO@Chew)…

    • SG says:

      Ahhh pipe dreams! Keep smoking!

  4. funBaller says:

    mmmm….it’s funny that for the love of basketball we hate…but it’s normal…except the idiots just don’t get it…nobody tells YOU…where u earn your money????? People are really UPSET because some player changed Jobs….get a life (when shoe fits)

  5. Spurs Fan says:

    as LB said his patience will be tested this year and as I read in hangtime blogs, it took 2 full seasons and one complete and a half post season to accomplish chemistry between big 3 in heat. so we CAN NOT say !Go cavs Go!
    it will take at least 2 seasons, so the patience of LB will be tested NOT ONE, NOT TOW, ….

    • SG says:

      My patience will be tested….that’s why I want to ship two of our rookies off and replace him with the best guy or the worst team with bad knees.

      Sounds like a good move…

  6. lakerfan says:

    Kevin Love is not a lose for the timberwolves for he is never a winner is damaging to the team

  7. Defdun says:

    Agree 100%…this is a win/win trade. Wolves will become a team to watch in the future. Kind of resembling the Clippers story line – from a losers team to a point guard powered high-flying, up-tempo, fun-to-watch playoff team.

  8. Savonn The Peoples says:

    Just makes you dislike LeBron i was always a fan of his now he looks like a desperate bitch.

  9. Jeffrey Matias says:

    Wiggins it is good for you to be out from cavs . If you would stay there for sure you won’t get the playing time . Show to them that they are wrong trading you. Take this as a challenge and lead the wolves.

  10. swingman says:

    This trade is good for wiggins. Good luck to lebron but i’ll be honest i think LBJ is done. bulls are back, spurs are still gonna take it this coming season, if OKC can find a way to gel together (Durant being the clutch performer and Westbrook being his support) then they can take the west from the spurs, miami will be good but i think they are done. let’s not forget about toronto.

    as for wiggins, he going to be a phenom….he’s no next jordan, no next kobe, no next lebron….he’s gonna make a name for himself and bsically make cleveland regret it :D

  11. jdub455 says:

    wiggins shldnt be down at all… this is an opportunity for him to lead the twolves… this wont happen if he stayed in cavs being teamed up with the best player in the world… so happy for him, hope that the rubio connection esp on the fast breaks will be exciting… go wolves!!

  12. JC says:

    Hahahaha< You people make me lough , you really think the Lebron will win a ring in cavaliers , Lebron is scare , he is done, he is gone , weak up , each year LB is worst , he know that , and he want to be sure to win another ring , Don't waste time Lebron you are done . this year Miami again going to the final , Heat is a team , lebron is other player , he is not Jordan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, don't hurry people , be cal and wait with patient , buy a new sofa relax and enjoy the NBA games this Year , Many teams will be very good and many surprises will appear , but count with Miami for the finals , but not cavaliers

    JC

    • Big says:

      Lol – the fans in miami really are just delusional. First they call Lebron the next coming of the Christ now hes nothing and they think they have a shot at doing anything. Your lead man is Bosh, remember his days in Toronto when he was the go to guy, 5 years younger and in his prime? He didnt make a playoff if I remember correctly, and if he did, sure didnt make it past the first round. Dream on

  13. mmmmmmm says:

    wolves with great future with deing, shabazz, rubio, Robinson, Zach, wiggins, and Bennett. Chap team in future

  14. flogic5 says:

    There are GM’s who live for managing, There are coaches that live for coaching. Then there is Jerry West who lived for basketball and no one has been like him. However, Flip is showing signs of a predecessor. Love is so good, this trade will never be seen as a steal, it just can’t. However, in the context of the situation, and pulling in Young from the Sixer’s with Wiggins and Bennett, not to mention what the trade exception may yet allow him to do (though it could go poof, not sure it matters but it could add to it all) this is the sign of someone who lives for basketball. Too young to tell, too early to know, but these Wolves might just run as a rabid pack!

    • CJ says:

      I predict that Bennett will emerge as the real prize. Last year was a horrible, horrible year for Bennett (as he had multiple injuries). Bennett reminds me of Charles Barkley. I believe he is a future hall of famer. Last year he missed all his shots and had the worst shooting percentage ever among rookies. However, he is a good shooter when his joints are working. Once he is healed, he will be someone to reckon with.

  15. Alex says:

    The Wolves have a chance to be very very good in a few years. Love showed he was a very talented player but not necessarily a franchise guy. This is a win win trade for everyone. Cleveland got Lebron’s wingman and the wolves have some exciting young talent that can now grow together. With a core of Wiggins, Bennett, Young and hopefully Rubio sticks it out. Plus LaVine has the potential to be a star.

  16. Gillsy says:

    This was a great trade for both sides. Really Wiggins or Bennet were never going to get big minutes for the Cav’s. Now the T-wolves have really traded Love who was never going to stay, Shved who cant hit a barn door and Mbah a Moute who it taking up space on the bench. Get Wiggins, Bennet and Young. A+ you were never going to get any better than that at least you are getting more for this Kevin than the last one. It will be interesting to see how the Cav’s team meshes together.

  17. jmndodge says:

    This is a rare trade. Wiggins is in a much better opportunity – he will be key to the success of the wolves. Not necessarily this season, but as they build for the future. He is young – if he stays healthy he should look forward to a long career. Love on the other hand is also in a unique opportunity for him. He is productive as an offensive force – and coupled with a strong Center, a top tier point guard, and perhaps the leagues best player they should meld together quickly and be a powerhouse perhaps for years to come. The wolves have to make one additional move – 15 roster contracts presently, but they have to find room for GR3. Glen Robinson III is far to good a draft choice to lose. While I don’t expect him to contribute immediately – his upside may be very high. The wolves will have to cut one roster player – JJ is the obvious choice – Williams was brought in to replace him, and his size and style of play does not fit with this team. K-mart fits this team, but they really can’t afford to give him 30 minutes at the expense of the young players development. With Shved no longer on the team that helps, but he wasn’t playing many minutes, and would have been primarily a PG./SG combo – the team obviously seeing LaVine in that role. If money is the prime factor – with the addition of both Young and Bennett and G. Dieng’s ability to perhaps play both C/PF – if PEK stays healthy Hummel at minimum wage (800,000) is an easy cut. Hummel however provides good distance shooting, and has proved a disciplined player. Were I GM, both JJ and Martin would be gone and GR3 kept on the roster. Any trade would need to be primarily for a very deep bench/practice player and a future draft choice. There should be some interest in one of these players – JJ does provide instant energy. and in short bursts can score quickly – and Martin although weak on defense is a quick release shooter who still moves well. Don’t expect this team to have much consistency this season. Weaker at PF – deeper at the wing – several potential exciting players but not a lot of experience. Budinger/Brewer will provide enough veteran presence on the wing – Williams veteran backup (deep bench) at PG.

  18. Alain says:

    The really funny thing to watch will be the look on the Cavs fans and management when Lebron James will yet disappoint them again. Cavs fans and did not forget what James did to them 4 years ago, they are giving him a second, the last chance for him t redeem himself. And the only way that James will be fully forgiven is if he wins a NBA championship with the Cavaliers and I’m not seeing this happening in the 2014 – 2015 season. James is very good player(a little overrated in my opinion), but he doesn’t step up when he is the most needed. He let the Cavs down in 2010 and run from Cleveland, he just let the Heat down and run from Miami. He only signed a 2 years contract with Cleveland. Where is he going to run next…. Maybe back to South Beach Miami again…lol

  19. manuel Mercado says:

    Good for Wiggin. Besides Lebron he will not shine. Now he has a better chance than in Clev. He has more opportunity to shine as a super star. I like to see him playing with the heat. He has a tremendous potential if no injury occur.Good luck Wiggins.

    • Mark says:

      Beside Lebron, not besides

      Beside and besides have 2 very different meanings.

    • casey says:

      It is an indictment on a society which thinks Wiggins is hard done by in this process. Wiggins goes to a bad team like first round picks normally do. Who cares if he’s traded? It has nothing to do with his potential it’s just a product of the reality of the Cav’s situation. Wiggins is playing in the NBA now. Why would he be anything but ecstatic? Only a spoiled person could be upset and so, in this process, Wiggins has proved he is well-adjusted.

  20. Dragutin says:

    Wigins is the next face of the NBA i see him as the second coming of Grant Hill.

  21. TOTENPLATZ says:

    I believe the Wolves are for a good season, Wiggins, Bennett , with the leadership from Rubio, I really believe they could get into the playoffs, and I don’t think the cavs know what they lost when they got rid of Wiggins..even for the trade for Love, , seeme to me like “the prophet” would had been more valuable for them..figures..let’s see what happens

  22. zen says:

    this dude looks like he enjoys himself out there an he is confident i think the t wovles will be just fine

  23. Elam says:

    Man im sick of all this, wiggins is gone shine and lebron cant win without a super team. Everybody knew what was gone happen when he went back to cleveland. Build him a team so he can win anothr free ring

    • hilljr says:

      For this tired “super team” debate. When did Jordan or Magic(who may or may not have been the best player on his own team) win a chip without superstar help…..better yet, when did Kobe. I don’t know why LeBron didn’t reach out to Wiggins and he’s wrong for it. Here’s the thing though. If you want to use the did it on ther own narritave realative to who wins Chips the only Arguments you have are Hakeem Olajuwon and Dirk Nowitzki. everyone else has played with two/sometimes three other Hall-of-Famers. Please stop it.

  24. kobeballhog says:

    Great move cavs. Those who said that they should just waited are so ignorant with how the nba works. Getting love a season earlier a year younger is the greatest move. A year together adds so much on a team. You need time to jell thats how you build championship teams. A year wasted is something no nba team who is after a championship wants. They might not win it all this season but the benefit of being together one full season far outweighs anything. Why waste time on an unproven rookie by the time he starts to contribute significantly lebron will be 34 – 35 yrs old. How is that gonna bring a ring to the cavaliers? Theres no need for future superstar if now is the time for the cavaliers to have all the glory. Championship chances or a future tmac with zero team accolades?

  25. Morgan says:

    Great trade for both teams but for all you nuts saying that Minni is going to be good in the short term….LOL! They’re 4 years away from being relevant in the West.

  26. Laura says:

    I’m neither a Cavs nor Wolves fan…but I’m kinda hoping the Wolves finally make the playoffs (long shot, in the packed Western conference, I know) and the Cavs fall to either San Antonio or OKC in the finals. This whole Lebron as GM thing has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and that scenario would make everyone happy.

    • DenH says:

      with no defense I will be surprised if they make east finals, I think it will be either hornets bulls or wizards bulls in ECF

  27. bossaw says:

    Well, I could not understand too

  28. Kt says:

    This young core is gonna be fun to watch, esp in transition

  29. Eli Garcia says:

    Well, I could not understand why the Cavs traded away Andrew Wiggins which is the 2nd coming of Michael Jordan(at least 80% of MJ).

    • hilljr says:

      More like second coming of Paul George…..MAYBE. Have you actually watched him play, like a game in college or in the summer league. I have, and I can tell you he isn’t in the same league talent wise as 18-year old Lebron like everyone says. Please just go back and watch 18 year old Lebron. Come to think of it…he’s not in the same league as 19 year old Kevin Durant.

  30. the hulk says:

    The timberwolves have a lot more potential now. They have a higher ceiling than what they had with love. Love is a really good player but he is not a winner. I would not be surprissed at all if Minnesota has a better record this season. On the other Hand cleveland has the potential to either be great or a dissaster next season. They have a lot of talent but they lack defense and they have a few high maintenance players.

  31. Lbj imposter says:

    If wiggins wants to win his first ring he must join our king lebron in the greatest godd@mned city in the universe on the greatest most prestigious sports franchise ever the cavaliers.we will trade joe Harris,Tristan Thompson,Zydrunas ilgauskas out of retirement but they must also include Thaddeus young,nikola pekovic,and at least half of the state of minnesota’s lakes to add to our own Lake Erie

  32. Yanni C. says:

    Great trade for each team. Cavs get a BIG piece to play alongside LeBron , but I feel that the Wolves made out like bandits and with another lottery pick ( 2015 draft ) and perhaps a trade or two for additional pieces that fit, Minn. could be a team to be reckoned with. Even in the short term, Rubio feeding Wiggins and LaVine in a up tempo offence will bring much excitement !

    • DenH says:

      I see the second coming of tmac and vc in wiggins and lavine, prepare to have some brain shattering dunks thrown all over the target center…

  33. johnny dawson says:

    Thank you HAHAHAHA for correcting Jeff Caplan’s grammar. You would think that a guy who fancies himself a professional writer could try a little harder.

  34. Unkle Daddy says:

    Good luck kid, they got some other good pieces and picked up some more, they be ok if not better in time.

  35. Tom says:

    Don’t forget Shabazz or GR III. Wolves will be young, athletic and very hungry and Flip is good at developing players. Should be fun to watch.

  36. HAHAHAHA says:

    COULDN’T care less. Not COULD. Jesus christ.

  37. harriethehawk says:

    This makes Minnesota much more interesting. When the wolves howl, it will now be for a reason.

  38. Ms. Penny says:

    Cavs weren’t patience, and will probably regret it somewhere down the line when Wiggins becomes a Star. Should’ve just waited until free agency to add Love. A good FO would not take the risk.

    • LittleSheep says:

      But Loves from Cali, so the cavs were smart to get him now or lose him to golden state or even the lakers

      • DenH says:

        what could the lakers possibly offer love…. languish in the west basement in a different colored jersey?

  39. John says:

    NBA Fan… Wiggins real Number is 22 not 21

  40. Pétrus says:

    Maybe Wiggins is better on the Wolves than he would be on the Cavs, we would barely see him on the court, but now with him, Bennett, Rubio and Young on the board, the wolves maybe can be a surprise this season like the suns was last season

  41. mike says:

    Great for the NBA. Wiggins can be the star in Minnesota that he would have not been in Cleveland

  42. Rod says:

    Wiggins gets to build his own legacy. Hated to see him go, but …

  43. CLIPPER_BOY says:

    Wiggins will do well future all-star can not say the same for the Wolves.

  44. Chuck says:

    The King’s resume continues its course. Love-em and leave-em but make certain you are the center of attention at all times. Have we ever seen such a self-absorbed top athlete who loves the idolatry and attention that sites like Bleacher Report and ESPN gives him at the snap of his fingers. Imagine never reaching out to AW or for that matter, the kid from U Conn! If I gave him a ten for something and asked for change, I would count the change.

  45. Curtis says:

    It’s going to be fun watching Wiggins play at the NBA level!

  46. NBA Fan says:

    So does this mean Wiggins can wear number 21 with the wolves or does he have to choose a different number because of Kevin Garnett?