This is much better than shaking Rajon Rondo's hand.
Kevin Love's future remains a hot-button issue these days. That tends to happen when disgruntled, top-10 NBA superstars are potentially available. While a trade is far from imminent, the Boston Celtics, who have interest in landing the bearded forward, have already cleared one hurdle, per ESPN Boston's Jackie MacMullan:
Love is under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves for another season, so he's not a free agent, but when the bruising All-Star was spotted lounging in the Fenway stands, hangin' with Rajon Rondo and sipping Sam Adams, it led to wildly hopeful speculation that Love would not only welcome a trade to the Boston Celtics, he would be willing to sign an extension that would enable him to roam the parquet alongside Rondo for years to come, the way Kevin Garnett once did.
In fact, team and league sources confirm, that's a scenario that Love is willing to consider.
Catching Love's attention is essential for any interested team. He can become a free agent after next season, and receiving parties won't want to pony up valuable assets if their prized acquisition could be nothing more than a one-year rental.
Boston-based speculation has soared in the wake of Love visiting Fenway Park and confabbing it up with Rondo:
Hunches founded upon their brief superstar huddle are products of overzealous reaching and untamed whimsy. Love's interest in re-signing with Boston means more than a weekend getaway and cordial conversation ever could.
All that's left for the Celtics to do now is strike a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite publicly squashing any and all rumors, Timberwolves president Flip Saunders is apparently softening up to the idea of moving Love, according to the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy: "Though suitors like the Celtics are nevertheless preparing to make pre-draft offers for Love, Saunders’ private actions are only now starting to separate from his public comments, and, according to a league source, the GM has slowly opened the window to start taking offers."
The Celtics, as Murphy notes, are among the many teams expected to make offers. Problem is, MacMullan says the Timberwolves are unlikely to be swayed by what Boston is slinging:
The Timberwolves privately maintain they already have fielded better offers from other teams, among them the Chicago Bulls, who can offer draft picks and some combination of Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson along with Carlos Boozer, whose bloated $16.8 million contract expires next summer and represents the kind of cap space rebuilding teams crave.
If the Timberwolves are truly unimpressed with the Celtics' trade proposal, they must not be very high on Jeff Green or Jared Sullinger. Boston can send the No. 6 pick their way, but one high-placed lottery selection won't be nearly enough.
"While the Timberwolves would expect lottery draft choices in return for Love—including a high pick in this draft—they also want a young player with star potential, according to a source," the Sporting News' Sean Deveney wrote.
Mass-producing numerous first-rounders won't be a problem for the Celtics. In addition to their own draft picks, they own the rights to the Brooklyn Nets' 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-rounders and the Los Angeles Clippers' 2015 first-rounder, among others.
Tangible talent was always going to be the issue.
Sullinger and Green are Boston's best assets outside of Rondo, but neither has that can't-miss label plastered across his forehead. Teams such as the Bulls, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns have more to offer in terms of immediate-impact players.
Which team can offer the best package for Kevin Love?
"We talk about Kevin all day or we could insert Carmelo [Anthony’s] name but nothing’s happened," Rondo said, via The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "We’ve got a couple of days left before the [June 26] draft, things may shake up before that time.”
Any shake-up begins with the Timberwolves lowering their asking price, which they must inevitably do.
No club is going to dangle the perfect combination of draft picks, players and financial relief. There is no such thing when it comes to trading superstars. Minnesota can only hope that whatever and whomever it receives is good enough.
Boston's offer would, at the very least, fall into that category.