News broke this afternoon that Kevin Love intends to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers to test the free agent market this summer.
ESPN sources say Cavs forward Kevin Love has opted out of the final year of his contract and will be a free agent July 1— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2015
This actually isn't much of a surprise, as it's financially beneficial for Love to opt out even if he intends to stay in Cleveland. This news may merely be a precursor to Love signing a more lucrative extension with the Cavs. That won't stop a number of teams from lining up to present the All-Star forward with their best sales pitch, and you can bet that the Boston Celtics will be in line.
Of course the Celtics will make a pitch for Love, just as they will for just about any big name free agent this summer. That doesn't make it any more likely that Love would actually want to play in Boston, but that's what makes this tidbit from Adrian Wojnarowski so intreguging.
The Celtics have a plan.
Sources: If Kevin Love goes forward with visits in July, expect Boston to sell him on pursuing group of Love, Robin Lopez and...Paul Pierce.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 24, 2015
Wait, what? Where did this come from? Wasn't Pierce narrowing his choices between staying in Washington or teaming up with Doc Rivers again with the Clippers? Those remain the most likely destinations for the veteran, but if Boston were to acquire a star like Love, a return to the franchise that he spent the first 14 years of his career with suddenly becomes more enticing.
Pierce has stated in the past that he'd love to finish his career in Boston, but given that he may only have a season or two left in the tank, it's also important that his next destination be a team with a chance to win a title. Right now Boston is not one of those teams, but adding a star like Love could boost them into consideration. Adding the trio that Woj mentions would at least make their chances comparable to Washington's. The Clippers would still be the more talented team, but they also need to navigate the brutal Western Conference.
Lopez may not be a flashy name, but he's a good defensive center that would provide the Celtics with the rim protector they have been seeking, which makes him an ideal fit next to Love.
It seems unlikely that Love would be lured to Boston based on the addition of a defensive role player and a 37-year old, especially when other teams can offer him a fellow superstar to play with. Why leave LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to play for a team that probably won't produce another All-Star?
This may be a long shot, but perhaps Love would be enticed by the chance to be "The Man" again. No, he doesn't want to put up great stats on a terrible team like he did in Minnesota, but that wouldn't be the case here. Boston already proved they could make the playoffs last season and Love could take them to the next level while taking on the alpha dog role that he desires.
Essentially Boston's pitch isn't about forming the next super team. It's about adding players that fit around him to make him feel like the cornerstone of the franchise, rather than the third wheel he became in Cleveland. It may be a long shot, but at least Danny Ainge has a plan in mind for when he takes his shot, rather than shooting blindly.