Cleveland locked up Irving, last year’s All-Star Game MVP, to a maximum contract extension on the first day of free agency and then James rocked the league by announcing he was returning. Beyond that, Cleveland signed free agents Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones, veteran players with NBA titles on their resumes.
The Cavs have soared from an Eastern Conference also-ran to title favorites in less than two months.
Love is coming off of his best season, averaging career highs in points (26.1) and assists (4.4) while grabbing 12.5 rebounds per game and shooting 37.6 percent from 3-point range. But the Wolves finished 40-42, well out of the playoff chase in the demanding Western Conference, and a disenchanted Love had seen enough.
He watched the Timberwolves make mistakes with coaching hires, front office hires and in the draft, all of which helped keep the franchise out of the playoffs for the last 10 years. He was infuriated when former team president David Kahn declined to give him a full, five-year max contract two years ago and also grew distant from teammates last season as the team faded down the stretch.
Griffin was initially reluctant to include Wiggins, the super-athletic small forward who spent one year at Kansas.
The Timberwolves entertained offers from several other teams for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer and made it clear to the team that he planned to go elsewhere after missing the playoffs all six years in Minnesota.
Young is an energetic, 26-year-old veteran who will immediately step in and start in Love’s spot. He’s nowhere near as versatile as Love, but he averaged a career-high 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds for the woeful Sixers last year.
Bennett struggled mightily in Cleveland last year after being the No. 1 pick out of UNLV. Shoulder surgery caused him to show up to camp out of shape and he spent his entire rookie season looking overmatched. He had surgery to address sleep apnea and showed up to summer league in great shape.
“With the additions of Wiggins, Bennett and Zach LaVine this summer, we have brought in three exciting young athletes who all have the potential to have an impact in this league,” Saunders said. “All three of them complement each other very well and we believe they will be foundations of our team for years to come.”
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski reported from Minneapolis.