The Celtics might be a piece away from being true NBA Finals contenders. Specifically, Boston could use an experienced center capable of stretching the defense and gobbling up rebounds.
So, Danny Ainge and Co. likely have some interest in a potential trade for Kevin Love, right? Eh… probably not.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are open to trading love before the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Friday night, citing sources. Love, 31, is averaging 16.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game for the 5-16 Cavs.
As NBA trade possibilities expand beginning Dec. 15, Cleveland’s prepared to listen to trade offers for All-Star forward Kevin Love. Story: https://t.co/u59srZBws0
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2019
So, why would a potential Love trade be of little interest to the Celtics? The answer is simple, really, and can be broken down into three factors.
First of all, Love makes a hair under $29 million this season, and the Celtics have just over $10 million remaining in cap space. Thus, there would have to be a a significant contract, or two, heading to Cleveland in a possible deal between the Celtics and Cavs.
At least one of the following players would need to be involved in a trade:
— Kemba Walker
— Jayson Tatum
— Jaylen Brown
— Gordon Hayward
— Marcus Smart
The Celtics aren’t moving any of those players, especially Walker, Tatum and Brown. As for Smart and Hayward, the Celtics reportedly have labeled both players off limits in trade talks. Even if the Celtics were open to moving Smart, they still would have to free up roughly $6 million in additional cap space.
Yeah, not happening.
(You can experiment with potential deals yourself by using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.)
Reason No. 2: Love does not fill Boston’s greatest need.
The Celtics need a legitimate rim protector, someone who can at least stand up to the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and — potentially — Anthony Davis. Yes, Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams have played well this season, but they simply aren’t good enough.
Sure, Love is tall and always has been a strong rebounder, but he is an average defender, at best. Love does not have what it takes to limit the game-changing bigs who stand between the Celtics and a championship.
(Honestly, Aron Baynes would be an ideal addition for the Celtics, but NBA rules prevent the Celtics from trading for a player whom they dealt away within the same league year.)
Lastly, Love probably wouldn’t make the Celtics any better. In fact, in a hypothetical Hayward-Love swap, the Celtics’ projected wins total decreases by three, according to ESPN’s trade machine.
Love is a very good player, one who might even possess a Hall of Fame resume by the time he retires. And there’s no denying his ability to knock down 3-pointers while also pulling big men out of the paint — thus opening the lane for Boston’s guards and wingmen — would play well on the Celtics. Like most modern NBA head coaches, Brad Stevens makes spacing a huge priority.
But, again, that’s not what the Celtics need right now. They need a player who can draw a line in the sand and refuse to be bullied by Antetokounmpo or Embiid. Furthermore, the things Love would bring to the Celtics simply would not be worth the cost. Ultimately, it’s far more likely the Celtics pursue a more traditional center.
In fact, one former NBA executive believes there’s a deal to be made for a big man that would “change the landscape” of the Eastern Conference.
What the Celtics do, or don’t do, before the trade deadline remains to be seen. But, with the path to conference supremacy suddenly far clearer than many anticipated, don’t be surprised if Boston executes a move of legitimate significance. Just don’t expect to see Love’s name in the headlines.