Beantown was abuzz this past weekend as multiple reports placed All-Star Kevin Love in town. With week after week of trade talk, the visit of Love for a weekend of “sight-seeing” has further stoked the fires of the fanbase.
Love is a 25-year-old star in the making at power forward. Despite the numerous other trade partners for Love, there are two keys that puts Boston at the top of the list and neither of them are the storied tradition of Boston, or the chance to play for a team committed to winning.
If Love is looking for tradition, he can find that closer to home in Los Angeles where the Lakers franchise is as storied as the Celtics, and already have aging superstar Kobe Bryant in place. The New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and Houston Rockets are also rumored to be interested in Love, and all of those teams are closer to winning in the playoffs right now than Boston.
If he is seeking a team committed to winning, Boston is hardly a sure thing. Sure, general manager Danny Ainge built a winner around veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, but rebuilding this current squad back into a champion is a work in progress.
Obviously, there is plenty of allure for Boston in wooing Love. On a team with little help on offense and the focus of every defensive game-plan, Love put up 26.1 points-per-game and averaged 12.5 rebounds-per-game. Love gets to the line, makes his free throws (career .815 free throw percentage), gets his hands dirty rebounding under the basket, and has steadily increased his shooting range as he continues to evolve his offensive game.
What the Celtics have that Minnesota would want in order to make a deal are more chips than any other team to make a trade. The Celtics can offer Kevin Love a point guard in Rajon Rondo.
Rondo can get Love the ball in position to score without having to do as much work on his own. Last year saw Love stuck with a point guard who was a shooting guard in disguise in Ricky Rubio, to which Rondo is very different. Rondo is a master of the pick-and-roll after running it so often with former power forward Garnett for so many years. In addition, a driving guard like Rondo can collapse a defense and give Love open looks at the basket.
A top offensive player like Love teamed with a pass-first point guard like Rondo is a match made in basketball heaven. Of course, the Celtics still need to be able to lure Minnesota in trading Love to them.
For Minnesota, the Celtics are an interesting trade partner in that they can offer both a plethora of draft picks and a serviceable power forward in return. For Minnesota, the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft and first-round picks almost any season – Boston has nine first-round picks in the next five years, plus numerous second-round picks. It’s a package of selections no other rumored trade partner can match.
In addition, the Celtics can dangle former round one draft picks at power forward in Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk. Although neither player is a scorer nor rebounder like Love, both are potential starters at a reasonable cost. Pairing them with one or two first-round picks this year and another couple in the future could soften the blow of trading best player.
If Boston is able to draw the interest of Love’s services to come and play in Boston for the long-term and entice Minnesota with their draft picks and young players, they could have the next superstar to build around walking through the door.