In a few hours this humble scribe will be crossing the East River to make the strenuous move from Central Harlem to a pristine apartment on the border of Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods. It’ll be the end of an exhausting search for a new residence. In New York City, renting instead of buying is a frustrating reality. The Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Wiggins can relate.
Usually the opposite is true of NBA franchises that draft No. 1 overall picks and vice versa. Franchise cornerstone players don’t often fall on your doorstep. And when they do, teams do everything in their power to preserve those talents.
However, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ lottery privilege is showing after winning the jackpot five times in 11 years (signing LeBron twice). Instead of observing the development of their No. 1 overall picks for the long haul, Cleveland is dialing U-Haul and contemplating shipping a few out for a more established young All-Star.
Fortunately, Cleveland is the nation’s No. 1 city for cheapest average home rentals among metropolitan cities in the United States because Wiggins and Anthony Bennett may want to consider renting. Sometime before the upcoming trade deadline, the Cavs may dump their two most recent No. 1 overall picks. Until then, Cleveland is using them as bartering chips for the Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, despite the fact that he’s never piloted a roster that’s flown across playoff seas.
Bennett’s relocation, after an abysmal rookie year, was to be expected. However, Wiggins’ juxtaposition on the volatile trade block is an intriguing byproduct of James’ return. Especially after he flashed so much superstar potential during his freshman year at Kansas. Officially, Wiggins is a Cavs neophyte, but unofficially, he’s a squatter in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
Wiggins and Kevin Love are both contemporary Chris Webber analogs. Wiggins would be the first No. 1 overall pick traded before he'd played a game with his original team since Webber was swapped by Orlando to Golden State for Anfernee Hardaway and three first round picks. Love is at the stage in his career that matches the period in which Webber morphed from a malcontent into an MVP candidate and a leader on a perennial contender in Sac-Town.
Likewise, Love is statistically elite, but his numbers feel like emptier calories than a Big Mac, his legacy lacks protein and his leadership skills have been given a failing grade by teammates. Nonetheless, an upright Paul George is the player and athlete whom NBA rookie Wiggins’ upside most compares to.
Instead of hiding in the Amazon until he was absolutely forced to report to T-Wolves/Cavs] camp, Wiggins’ NBA obligations thrust him into an uncomfortable position on Sunday.
While Wiggins was in Westchester, New York for a rookie photo shoot, a fluffy SportsCenter interview with anchor Brian Weinstein turned into a saunter across hot coals.
The grimace plastered on Wiggins’ face conveyed the agony he felt being placed into this hot sauna on national television with Cleveland printed in capital bold, high yellow letters across his chest, as the questions about his current predicament rained down upon his head.
Last week, the muted social media accounts of NBA franchises roared to life by suggesting parody titles of sitcoms inspired by the league’s teams.
James is the actual executive producer of a sitcom on STARZ, but Wiggins is Kevin Love’s unwitting co-star in an NBA spinoff of Tyler Perry’s Have and the Have Nots. Call it the Cav and Cav Nots.
Since Love could pull out of USA Basketball’s training camp due to the speculation swirling around him, Wiggins should have had the option of hopping on a Southwest Airlines flight midway through this grilling.
If James has his way, Wiggins is about to become the equivalent of Family Matters' Judy Winslow. The youngest Winslow daughter was written off the ABC series following the fourth season's conclusion and was erased from the show's existence. A week before James signed in Cleveland, Wiggins was the center of the Cavs world like Urkel was to Laura. By September, Wiggins may get retconned out of franchise existence by the new-old regime.
On the right is Andrew Wiggins' face when someone pointed out his name wasn't in LeBron's essay pic.twitter.com/xBbspjg9wC
— DJ Meta Dunson (@CerebralSportex) August 4, 2014
Instead of collapsing like Will into Uncle Phil’s arms after his pops left over the question of, “Why don’t LeBron want me, man?!”, Wiggins responded with aplomb and uncomfortable, blunt honesty .
"I just want to play for a team that wants me. So whichever team wants me I'll play for," Wiggins told Weinstein on SportsCenter.
Two years ago, Florida State and a slew of schools across the nation advertised how badly they wanted Wiggins, but as far as we can tell, the Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in leasing Wiggins until the player they really want is pulled into their tractor beam.
The Cavs are putting on their best poker face with Wiggins, just as skillfully as Jon Bon Jovi and his Toronto backers are feigning commitment to the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.
The NBA has acknowledged the precarious position by pulling Wiggins’ Cavs jersey from their site.
Wiggins is simply seeking a guarantor with outstanding NBA credit to sign off on his talent and guarantee him a safe haven for 2014-15.
LeBron James won’t be that co-signer. In fact, the most powerful athlete in sports may actually be the impetus behind his eviction.
According to what Wiggins told Brian Weinstein, James hasn’t even spoken to him yet. That may have something to do with James being the strongest proponent of Cleveland acquiring Love from Minnesota.
However, James’ personality has always been evasive of awkward encounters and confrontations.
Last month, at the height of his free agency intrigue, he flew back on a private jet to Miami from Vegas alongside Dwyane Wade without informing the Heat guard that he had already made the decision to return to Cleveland.
After his return announcement was released by Sports Illustrated, James quickly swooped into South America and hasn’t been heard from since.
Fortunately for Wiggins, his stay in a Motel 6 could finally come to an end if reports that Wolves owner Glen Taylor expects a Love trade to occur before the end of this month are accurate.
Taylor's timeline for a deal around Aug. 23 or 24 is a clear indication that Wiggins is their target, although other contenders linger in Chicago and Golden State.
The league-mandated 30-day moratorium on dealing Wiggins after he signed his rookie contract ends on Aug. 23. The emerging consensus is that Minnesota’s vacillation will end long before the regular season and eventually they’ll make a deal with the eager Cavs or Warriors.
Until then, Wiggins remains the transient rookie spending his time balancing on pins and needles, who is oddly a coveted phenom and a trade pawn at the same damn time.
Minnesota gets quite frigid in the winter, but it can’t be any worse than those goose bumps popping up on Wiggins’ shoulders after the cold treatment he’s received from Cleveland.