INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — The Cavaliers chose potential over power.
By selecting Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins over Duke’s Jabari Parker with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, the Cavs are getting a talented, perimeter player who some experts believe can blossom into a superstar.
The 19-year-old Wiggins, who averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds as a freshman at Kansas, would have likely been the top pick a year ago, when the Cavs took forward Anthony Bennett.
The Cavs debated over Wiggins and Parker for days before finalizing their choice in the last hours leading into the draft. There was a reported rift between general manager David Griffin, who preferred Parker, and owner Dan Gilbert, who wanted Wiggins. However, two hours before the draft started, Gilbert posted a photo of the team’s decision room on his Twitter account with the words: “United and busy.”
Cleveland’s busy all right.
The selection of Wiggins came one day after the Cavs introduced new coach David Blatt, and it’s just the next step in a two-week stretch that could re-shape Cleveland’s franchise for the next decade.
On Tuesday, the team can begin contract negotiations with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving on a five-year contract extension. That’s also the first day free agents can negotiate with teams.
With at least $25 million in salary-cap space, and the potential to create more, the Cavs are expected to make a strong run at LeBron James, who informed the Miami Heat earlier this week that he’s opting out of the final two years of his contract.
Landing James might be a longshot, but so was winning the NBA lottery. The Cavs feel that with Wiggins they have at least filled the small forward position that has been so problematic since James left in 2010.
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