Over most of the time of the talk of Kevin Love trades, I have been astounded by the Celtics' ability to control the narrative. The two teams are not that different, the stars on each team are in very similar contract situations and both teams missed out on the playoffs after making at least some effort to get there (I still believe the Celtics wanted to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year).
So to me, it was brilliance by someone in the Celtic's organization that the entire narrative has been Minnesota's star coming to Boston and not about Boston's star going somewhere else. Turns out, there is just too much time before things actually start happening for us all not to see a story that easy to write. Rondo trade stories have popped up again.
We have seen the importance of public opinion with the Twolves. They went from "we're not even talking about it" to "we'll field some calls if you blow us out of the water" to it becoming public that Kevin Love told them he's not staying. Once that becomes public, it is just a matter of time before he is gone.
It is a good and valuable thing for the other teams in the league to see you as a buyer and not as a seller. If these Rondo stories balloon out into a bigger batch of stories, does that change the perception of the Celtics by the other teams in the league? I don't think so, but maybe. Does it bother Rondo enough for him to make a public statement about being traded? I don't think so, but maybe.
All that being said, I thought it would be interesting to look at the Celtics' and Timberwolves' situations and compare the outlooks for the respective teams.
Kevin Love is the most valuable player that will be talked about in this post. I need not say more. The downside is that he is leaving. To keep him in the current situation with only one more guaranteed year would be akin to using your last two dollars earmarked for a last meal to buy a lottery ticket.
Rubio is on a reasonable deal. He has one year left and then the team needs to decide what to do with him. He is an asset, especially at that number. His value really depends on the amount of his next deal.
Pekovic is the albatross of this group. He makes around 12 million for each of the next four years. That is too much for too long. That being said, cap room means less in Minnesota and he is a good player. Overpaid or not, it is positive that he is locked down long term.
Martin has two years left (plus a player option) at around 7 million each year. He is an above average SG (not saying much, there is a dearth of SG's) and makes a reasonable amount. On a contender his deal is good. On a rebuilding team, it takes up space you won't use anyway and he scores points to put fannies in seats. Keeping him on a rebuilding team would depend on his locker room influence, which I would imagine is not good, but I don't know.
The Twolves have a few mid level contract players that are not particularly special on short term contracts. They are largely inconsequential in the long term.
The Twolves owe a first round pick which is top 12 protected for 2015 and 2016, then becomes a 2nd rounder. They would love to make the playoffs and owe this pick. (Phoenix owns this pick.)
Note none of these players were mentioned above. No one of consequence is on the Twolves roster from the 2011 or 2012 drafts. From last year's draft, Giori Dieng made second team all rookie with modest numbers. Shabazz Muhammad struggled to break into the rotation.
If you ever want to see how inept their drafting has been and don't mind wasting 15-20 minutes, follow all the trades to see what they finally ended up with from the 20th pick in 2011. Here's a hint: Almost nothing... plus cash.
Their roster lacks much beyond Kevin Love. They have drafted poorly and have no young talent. Their established talent is not fantastic. If they don't get a serious haul for trading Kevin Love, they are in a lot of trouble.
Rondo is their best asset. The problem with Rondo as an asset is he has been injured and between that and playing so long with other stars, people seem uncertain of his value. Take his injury away and I think Ainge would be getting offers like people are getting for Love. Regardless, he has absolute value as a player or as an asset (my distinct preference is to keep him).
Sully is probably the most valuable player other than Rondo. He is playing on a rookie contract for some time still and could take a very big leap this upcoming season finally playing PF and not C.
Green is an enigma, every other week he is overpaid or appropriately paid. Everyone seems to agree he is not underpaid.
Bradley is a restricted free agent. Lord knows what will happen there.
Olynyk has definate value, although certainly not at the Sully level. He could very easily turn into the poor man's version of Dirk.
Bass is on a pretty tradeable contract for just one more year.
Gerald Wallace is an absolute negative. I remain unwilling to give up an asset just to get rid of him.
Bogans' eraser contract has value.
The Celtics have more 1st rounders than they can count.
The Celtics undeniably have assets beyond their star. If they were to somehow lose Rondo without getting anything back for him, they would certainly be able to move forward with a rebuild.
Perhaps there is more to the trade talk focusing around Kevin Love than Rondo. The Timberwolves have absolutely no assets to go out and add to Kevin and make a last push for the playoffs. The Celtics, on the other hand, do absolutely have assets to add to Rondo. Maybe I'm giving the Celtics' brass too much credit for controlling the narrative. Perhaps what they instead deserve praise for is for not being the Timberwolves and having done a better job over the last few years.