The NBA offseason is about to begin, and the tampering season has been in full effect for the last month. If the NBA is good for two things, it’s drama and player movement. Perennial powers Miami and San Antonio Spurs just wrapped up the Finals, again, and if anyone is going to knock these two powers off, we may see that team beginning their construction on draft night. The team that rises on draft night may not be handing out a new hat to a young kid out of college; they’ll be making a trade for a franchise altering player. That team is starting to look like the Boston Celtics, and that player appears to be Kevin Love.
The Kevin Love trade rumors have been well known for a long time, and if it is true that Love doesn’t want to return after 2015, then the rumors will become reality. The Wolves have no choice- they’ll be forced to trade him on draft night to get the best return on a deal, and the only way to do that is to send Love to a place where he wants to be. Love spent the first weekend of June in Boston, taking in the sites and hanging with some of the local pro sports stars. NBA superstars don’t just make weekend trips to historic cities with a rabid fan base, so it is safe to say Love’ trip to Boston wasn’t just a vacation. It looked like a trip to check out his potential home and workplace.
Yes, the Celtics are among many suitors when it comes to Love’ services (Chicago, Golden State, Houston, and the LA Lakers), but when you step back and take a look at the scenario, it’s easy to see why Boston makes the most sense for Love. First and foremost, Boston has the most assets to offer, by far, and considering Minnesota would be dealing their franchise player, it is important to be able to find another potential franchise player with the picks gained in the deal. The Wolves would potentially receive the number six pick in a deep draft later this month and any additional picks they may want (Celtics have nine first round picks in the next five years.) Brooklyn’ first rounders in ’16 and ’18 has huge potential because Brooklyn has an aging and inflexible roster. If the Wolves want financial flexibility or young talent, the Celtics have expiring contracts and players they can include too (Jeff Green, Avery Bradley-sign and trade.)
Some question whether this deal makes sense for Boston considering the amount they will have to give up in the deal, but the only way Boston is going to compete is to put talent around Rondo. Love fits in perfectly with the pass-first point guard. Minnesota has to be leery of making this deal because the last time they made a deal with Boston, it netted the Celtics a championship in the first year. When it comes down to it, the Wolves should do what is right for the franchise and for Love. Avoiding trades out of spite is bad for business, and the Timberwolves still need to sell tickets, which won’t happen with a lame-duck Love on the roster.
Chicago has a good amount of assets to move (Taj Gibson, draft picks), and although Derek Rose is (was?) a great player, he’s not a pass-first point guard like Rondo, he’s coming off two straight missed seasons, and there are questions regarding the health of his knees. Houston has a good team and they may be able to clear cap space, but it isn’t the best fit. Howard didn’t play well with another dominant big (Gasol) and there won’t be a lot of shots for Love with Harden around too. Golden State has the players on their roster that are the most appealing (David Lee, Harrison Barnes), but they don’t have the picks and they aren’t a proven contender in the stacked Western Conference. The Lakers would be a viable candidate if they had something to trade, but besides the number seven pick, the cupboard is bare.
In the summer of 2007, the Celtics entered the draft armed with assets and the number five pick. After the draft was done, they had added Ray Allen and a shot to trade for Kevin Garnett because he was willing to come to Boston for a chance at a ring. It worked. Now we enter the summer of 2014, and this time the Celtics are in similar position, and because it worked in ’07, that gives them the confidence to go for it again. The Celtics are going to do what they have to do to build a contender, and draft night will mark the beginning of a big summer in Boston. Danny Ainge is hoping he can repeat history.