Kevin Love could have serious interest in joining the Boston Celtics this summer, according to a report by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski. The NBA insider said Monday morning that Danny Ainge was waiting until July to "lay out Love's expanded role in the system" and to "sell Love on a vision for surrounding him with complementary talent, on maximizing his popularity as New England's next star."
Woj's report didn't even mention that one of Love's close long-time friends is Isaiah Thomas, which makes his rumored interest in the Celtics even more intriguing.
Thomas and Love have been friends since sixth grade when they met playing basketball in the Portland AAU circuit. They'd sleep over each other's house, with Thomas stating in a 2013 tweet that he used to stay every other weekend over Love's home in Portland and "lower the hoop outside so I could dunk on it."
.@Isaiah_Thomas is 5th in the NBA scoring 0.96 PPP in the P&R w/ Celtics. @kevinlove & IT4 would be a lethal combo if Love signed w/ Boston.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 12, 2015
Woj later cited sources saying that between Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers "there has been a sense of separation" because he has "never seemed fully integrated."
Love has been the third wheel with Cleveland and is having one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. The Cavs utilize him as a run of the mill spot up shooter, who only occasionally flashes his true potential when LeBron and Kyrie decide they should let Kevin get a chance to touch the ball.
If Love continues on this trajectory, he'll compromise his chances at the Hall of Fame, so he may naturally prefer to opt out of his contract and enter free agency this summer to find a team that can allow him to win all while being "the man." He'd also get to reconnect with an old friend in a locker room that would allow him to be himself.
Boston rarely uses the low post (only .83 PPP). A stud like @kevinlove would help. Love scores an amazing .98PPP on post ups. @Isaiah_Thomas— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 12, 2015
If Ainge and the Celtics do get a chance this summer to sit down with Love, it's easy to see why he'd be charmed: Love fills three of Boston's primary needs with his go-to scorer ability, perimeter shooting, and defensive rebounding; Ainge could sell Love the idea of winning titles and forming a legendary big man-coach pairing: "Love-Stevens, like Russell-Auerbach or Duncan-Popovich;" all while putting up Hall of Fame numbers and having his number retired with the Celtics in the Mecca of American sports towns.
Those are lofty expectations, but a creative-thinker like Ainge would probably go all out; even if the pitch might seem unrealistic, it never hurts to dream big.
But despite Woj's sources claiming that Love does have interest in the Celtics, the focus is being placed on his pure speculation that "it is only natural" that Love might have a harder time joining a franchise that employs Kelly Olynyk, who ripped his shoulder out of its socket in the first quarter of a playoff game.
Love openly said that Olynyk's tug was "bush league" and completely intentional, but when asked if he lost respect for the Celtics he didn't bite at the chance to crush the organization. But that all doesn't really mean much, because cheap shot or not it's basketball and injuries happen.
"We're all men here and we don't need to cry and tell you guys," Thomas said after the game. "It is what it is. It's playoff basketball. We don't want to hurt anybody, but things happen and you got to move forward."
Love was asked about his feelings in the heat of the moment, so naturally he was angry. Who wouldn't be? Even if Love does feel hostility towards the Celtics today, it will only wane as the dust settles and the page is turned to the summer, especially if he gets a chance to talk to Thomas about the incident, or even directly to Olynyk.
Maybe the Boston Celtics won't end up with Love, but it's unlikely that it'll have anything to do with what Kelly Olynyk did on Sunday afternoon. It's more possible that Danny Ainge's "legend pitch" to Kevin Love could be the bait and Isaiah Thomas' friendship could be the hook.