Kevin Love is NOT on the trade block!
At least that's the position that the Timberwolves are rightfully taking for the moment. While everyone understands that they will be doing everything in their power to hold to that position and build a team around Kevin Love that can compete long term, a large number of people assume that things will ultimately not work out in Minnesota and before too long they'll have to make a decision to cut bait or risk being left with nothing.
Thus the sharks are circling and the Celtics are one of those sharks who have a lot of teeth.
Every team piling up assets and talking about how they are "open" to acquiring a superstar should one become available is talking in code about Kevin Love. All those teams have gotten the same impression, directly or indirectly, from the Timberwolves: They are not interested in trading Love ahead of his potential free agency. You can understand that, even if a game of chicken could result in the nightmare scenario of Love walking for nothing — or for the kind of petty returns Cleveland and Toronto got for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively, in gun-to-your-head sign-and-trades.
So if (or when) the Wolves decide to put Love on the market, you can bet that the Celtics will be right at the front of the line making bids.
So the next logical question is what would the Celtics be willing to give up for Love?
Before we get to specifics, let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of trading for Love.
- He's a fantastic offensive player, probably a top 10 overall player in the league.
- He's only 25 years old.
- He's still getting better.
- He's still likely going to hit free agency in 2015, in which case he could bolt if he wanted to.
- He'll cost you picks and players and there's a chance we could make a bid on him in 2015 anyway.
- He doesn't play defense particularly well (though there are some that believe he could be average in the right system).
- You could make an argument that Jared Sullinger is developing into a poor man's Kevin Love at a fraction of the cost (more bang for your buck).
To me the pros far outweigh the cons and it would be silly not to make an effort to get into the bidding - even if he's not yet on the auction block.
An article was posted the other day where the author took a guess at the trade packages several teams could put together for Love. Here's what they came up with for Boston.
I'd be shocked if that was the final package that landed Love but it is a decent starting point for discussion purposes. Jeff Green is expendable and does have value, but I think he makes more sense on a team that's one or two pieces away rather than a rebuilding situation. Same with Brandon Bass but you have to match salaries somehow.
It seems like including the immediately expiring contract of Keith Bogans is a better way to save the Wolves long term money (and if they are going to dump Love, they'll be back into saving mode for sure). Love will make over $15M next year, so using the Pierce/Garnett trade exception of $10.2M would not appear to be an option.
Sullinger appears to be the centerpiece of this deal and I would assume that he's the starting point of any discussions with Minnesota. The draft picks are also a prize that the Wolves would covet and the Celtics have the luxury of leveraging any bidding war with additional picks (perhaps with various degrees of protection).
The rest is just details, but they could be critical details when it comes to weighing offers against other teams.
So now it is your turn to play armchair GM. What trade package would you offer up for Love?