NBA

The Moment LeBron James Made It Clear That He Had No Intention of Playing With Andrew Wiggins

The world was turned upside down when LeBron James announced that he was leaving the Miami Heat and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had just gone to four straight NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, winning back-to-back championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13. However, the Cavaliers had Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and they just selected Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick. Despite James deciding to make his way back to Cleveland, though, he ended up making one move that proved he probably had no intention of playing with Wiggins.

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins No. 1 overall

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He only played one season in college at Kansas, but Andrew Wiggins was dominant during his time there. Wiggins averaged 17.1 points per game and 5.9 rebounds in his lone season. He was ultimately a Consensus Second-Team All-American and the 2013-14 Big 12 Rookie of the Year.

His play then led to the Cavaliers selecting Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Leading up to that draft, the Cavaliers had had four straight losing seasons, following James’ departure to the Miami Heat. They did have some nice weapons, though, starting with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

There were also tons of rumors flying around at that time about James potentially returning to the Cavaliers that offseason.

Then, it officially happened. 

LeBron James returned to the Cavs, Wiggins was then traded for Love

When LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers, he made one move that proved he probably had no intention of playing with Andrew Wiggins.
Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves guards LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2018. | Jason Miller/Getty Images

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In July 2014, just weeks after the Cavaliers took Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick, James announced that he was returning to the Cavaliers. This came after he spent seven seasons with the organization at the start of his career before spending four seasons with the Heat. 

Then in August 2014, the Cavaliers ultimately traded Wiggins. In a three-team deal with the 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Wiggins while the Cavaliers acquired Kevin Love. 

Love ended up helping the Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA championship. The team also ultimately made four straight trips to the NBA Finals. Wiggins, on the other hand, has had an up-and-down career. He spent five-and-a-half seasons with the Timberwolves before they traded him to the Golden State Warriors this season. He averaged 19.7 points per game during his time in Minnesota to go with 4.3 rebounds.

James made it clear that he probably had no intention of playing with Wiggins

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When James announced his return to the Cavaliers, he did so by writing a letter in Sports Illustrated

In the letter, he said, “I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.” 

One person, however, was noticeably missing from the letter — Wiggins. 

James might have already had Love in mind when he wrote the letter because there were already rumors about the Wiggins-Love trade that eventually happened. However, he later explained his decision to leave Wiggins’ name out.

“I didn’t know the kid, really,” James said to Yahoo Sports in 2016. “I knew Dion. I knew Kyrie. I knew Tristan. I knew all the guys that I was playing with before. I didn’t know the kid, so it wasn’t no big issue to me.”

So, maybe James just left Wiggins out because he did not really know him. James Herbert of CBS Sports, though, noted that they did at least somewhat know each other. He pointed out that Wiggins played well at the LeBron James Skills Academy in 2012. James also reportedly once greeted him in 2013 outside of the Miami Heat locker room.

So, maybe just maybe, James left Wiggins out because he knew the other guys on the Cavaliers better than he knew him. Or perhaps he actually left him out because he had no intention of playing with him.

Either way, it worked out for James as Love ultimately helped him win a championship for the city of Cleveland.

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference and Basketball Reference