Kevin Love was not in a forgiving mood Sunday night, but could his anger at Kelly Olynyk spill over into potential free-agent negotiations this summer?
That’s the question Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski explored after Love suffered a dislocated shoulder during a tie-up with Olynyk in the first quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 101-93 Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics.
Love, whose status for Cleveland’s second-round playoff series now is in doubt, claimed Olynyk intended to cause him injury. Olynyk called the claim “ridiculous,” and said he’d been unsuccessful on multiple attempts to reach out to the Cavs big man after the game.
As you’d expect, the Cavs and Celtics players both backed their respective teammates. But for this discussion, only one opinion matters: Love’s.
There’s a chance that, after watching the play a few more times and coming down from the frustration of possibly being lost for the remainder of the playoffs, the 26-year-old power forward will soften his stance on what he called a “bush-league play.”
Let’s say he doesn’t, though, and he goes into the offseason with the belief Olynyk intentionally tried to ruin his season still fresh in his mind. The Celtics are expected to make another hard push for Love this summer, with Wojnarowski reporting “(president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge wanted a chance to sell Love on a vision for surrounding him with complementary talent, on maximizing his popularity as New England’s next star.”
“Boston has been no sure thing to lure Love,” Wojnarowski wrote, “but it had a better shot than most had believed. If Love left the Cavaliers, the Celtics had closed the gap on the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.”
That’s where Olynyk comes in. Someone with a personal vendetta against a particular player might not be so inclined to voluntarily become his teammate.
That’s the crux of Wojnarowski’s column. It’s important to note, however, that it is a column, with the author simply giving his opinion — albeit a very informed one. Don’t get it confused with one of the breaking-news #WojBombs that Wojnarowski seems to drop a couple dozen times each week.
But it does raise a larger debate: Are the Celtics, given their surprising success this season, now a desirable destination for big-name free agents?
Several Celtics were asked that question after Sunday’s loss, and nearly all of them pointed to the environment surrounding the team as its primary selling point. Forward Brandon Bass was particularly succinct.
“I mean, it’s the Celtics, man,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you want to come here?”
That environment certainly was electric during these playoffs, as raucous crowds packed TD Garden for Games 3 and 4 and continued to chant “Let’s go, Celtics” even after it became clear a Cavaliers sweep was inevitable.
“I?m not a big salesman,” coach Brad Stevens said. “Never have been, not been very good at it. The only thing I can ever say is, you want to be part of a great environment. It?s a good environment. That makes the whole experience better. And for me, that?s our task — to continue to build and grow within that environment. Because we?ve got a good foundation and culture moving forward.?
We’ll find out in a few months whether the Celtics mystique — coupled with a talented young coach and a promising young core — will be enough to lure a player of Love’s caliber to Causeway Street.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images