CLEVELAND -- On the first day they were able to complete the long-discussed blockbuster trade, the Minnesota Timberwolves sent All-Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who capped a spectacular summer Saturday by acquiring Love as another running mate for LeBron James to make them instant title contenders.
"Welcome to the Land (at)kevinlove!" James, the four-time league MVP, posted on his Twitter account.
The Timberwolves acquired No. 1 overall draft choice Andrew Wiggins and former top pick Anthony Bennett from the Cavs and veteran forward Thaddeus Young from the Philadelphia 76ers in the three-team deal.
The Sixers received a 2015 first-round draft choice from Cleveland and guard Alexey Shved and forward Luc Mbah a Moute from the Timberwolves, who also receive a trade exception worth about $6.3 million.
Among the many rumored deals during the Love saga was a trade involving Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who took his team's reluctance to part with him as a show of confidence in the backcourt tandem of himself and Stephen Curry.
"The Warriors believe in me," Thompson told this newspaper on Saturday. "That makes me want to work that much harder. They believe in me and Steph, they believe in the team we have. I believe in us, too. I think we have all the ingredients to win a championship."
Thompson acknowledged mentally preparing for the possibility of going to Minnesota but said he kept in contact with new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
"He said he wanted to coach me. I took that as a good sign," Thompson said. "I've been in rumors before. It didn't really bother me that much. If it did go down, I would have been disappointed. It was more like a feeling of 'I hope they don't trade me.' "
The Cavs and Timberwolves had discussed a trade involving Love for months, long before James decided to end his magnificent run with the Miami Heat and come back home to Ohio. The deal dragged through the summer, first because of Cleveland's un willingness to include Wiggins, and then because of a rarely used league rule that prohibited it from being completed until 30 days after Wiggins signed his rookie contract.
But once the teams completed a conference call with the league Saturday, there was nothing to prevent the planet's best player from aligning with the league's best power forward. Add in All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and James is the ringleader of a trio as potentially devastating as the one with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh he broke up last month.
"Kevin joining the Cavaliers represents a very special and unique opportunity for our team," Cavs general manager David Griffin said. "At only 25, Kevin has already firmly established himself as one the NBA's elite players and his talent, versatility and fit are major parts of our team's vision for success."
Beyond that, Cleveland signed free agents Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones, veteran players with NBA titles on their resumes.
Love is the biggest piece. He's coming off his best season, averaging career highs in points (26.1) and assists (4.4) while grabbing 12.5 rebounds and shooting 37.6 percent on 3-pointers.
Despite Love's stellar play, the Timberwolves finished 40-42, well out of the playoff chase in the demanding Western Conference, and he made it clear to the organization that he would opt out of his contract next summer and look for a contender.
"When it boils down to it, Kevin over his six years, he kept on saying, 'I want to win. I want to win,' " Timberwolves president Flip Saunders said. "Unfortunately over these last years, both him and the team haven't been able to do that. He felt it was best for him to go elsewhere."
Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson II contributed to this report.
TO REMAIN A WARRIOR
With the Kevin Love trade finally a reality, columnist Marcus Thompson II talked with Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who seemed relieved the saga was over and was enthused about the Warriors' prospects and for playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Championships in Spain. For the full account, www.mercurynews.com/thompson.