It’s only May, but the Kevin Love trade derby is just starting to heat up. Multiple reports this weekend indicated that the All-Star power forward does not want to re-sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves after this season and that the Wolves front office is considering making Love available via trade.
Suitors will be lining up to deal for Love from all around the league, but those teams will have to do more than just present Minnesota with the best value in a trade for the big man. Any potential deal will surely depend upon Love agreeing to sign a contract extension in a new destination since no team is going to give up the farm for what could be just a one-year rental.
The Boston Celtics are reported as being one of the teams interested in Love, according to Yahoo! Sports, along with Golden State, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and the LA Lakers, among others. Every team on that list won more games than Boston last year, but Celtics president Danny Ainge should be able to make a strong pitch to Love, who wants to play with a team that can contend in the future.
Here are a few reasons why the Celtics could be an appealing destination for Love as he enters the prime of his career.
Moving to the Eastern Conference
Love has played six NBA seasons without even a whiff of the postseason in a loaded Western Conference. Forty-eight wins wasn’t even enough for Phoenix to make the playoffs last year in the West, while that mark would have been good enough for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
With a young talented core in place on most Western Conference playoff teams, the challenge of playing out there won’t be changing anytime soon. The Celtics can offer a weaker conference and a better chance of playing at least a couple rounds every postseason for the years to come.
Celtics will have trade assets, even after dealing for Love
It will take quite a package to pry away Love from the Wolves, but even for a high price of two or even three first-round picks, the Celtics would still have at least six first-round picks left over through the 2018 NBA draft. Other suitors out there (outside of Phoenix) only have their own draft picks over that timespan, so they would be limiting their means of improving themselves long term by giving up two or more picks.
Playing with Rajon Rondo
Love has not had the opportunity to play with a perennial All-Star in his career, much less a player like Rondo. The point guard is playoff-tested and has the skill set that will mesh well with Love’s scoring ability all over the floor. Love averaged 18.5 shots last year, so playing with an unselfish star like Rondo would guarantee that his scoring opportunities wouldn’t take a hit.
Most coaching positions in the NBA have turned into revolving-door situations over the past few seasons, but Boston will not have that problem. With Stevens at the helm, it has a young coach signed in place for the next five seasons. Love has already spoken highly of Stevens publicly, and his track record of success at Butler University has to hold appeal for a player like Love who desperately wants to play for a winner.
Danny Ainge has built championship cores before
History is a nice thing to have on your side whenever you are making a pitch to a potential new addition. Love won’t have to remember back too many years to see what Ainge can do when he teams up star players. After constructing The Big Three in the summer of 2007, Ainge found the necessary role players in James Posey, Eddie House and P.J. Brown to form a championship contender. With Love and Rondo in the fold, history could repeat itself, and Boston would become a desirable location around the league.
Boston has one of the most passionate fanbases in the NBA. They packed the TD Garden most nights during a 25-win season, and that’s not lost on opposing players who witness it firsthand. That support, combined with Boston’s rich history, should appeal to a basketball junkie like Love who would have a chance to become firmly entrenched in the team’s legacy if he helps turn Boston into a contender once again.
These factors don't guarantee the Celtics anything in regards to acquiring Love, but they do give Boston one of the stronger pitches out there of all of Love's potential suitors. If Love wants to start over and win for awhile, Boston could be a better destination than most people might realize.