With increasing rumors speaking to Kevin Love's potential departure from Minnesota, the CelticsLife staff thought it'd be worth to take an extensive look at what the Boston Celtics should be willing to part with to land the All Star Power Forward.
Boston trades: Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Keith Bogans, 2014 Nets/Hawks 1st round pick, 2015 Celtics 1st round pick, 2016 Nets 1st round pick, 2018 Celtics 1st round pick
Timberwolves trade: Kevin Love
Separate transaction to sweeten pot for Wolves
Boston trades portion of trade exception for Chase Budinger (2 years, $10 million remaining)
Because of the CBA, these deals would have to be separate, but they would basically act as one large deal. In this deal, Boston gives up a ton in Sullinger (13 PPG, 8 RPG, 17 PER, super cheap rookie deal for two more seasons), and four first round picks of varying values. However, that's what you need to offer up to make Minnesota consider moving Love.
Why Minnesota does the deal: Love is leaving next summer. I know it, you know it, we all know it. Therefore, the Wolves have two choices: roll the dice that something miraculous changes if they can win next season (they'll be returning a very similar team as they have no cap space), or deal him this summer for a monster haul. And if they choose option #2, who is going to make a better offer than Sullinger, four first round picks and a ton of cap relief? The Wolves pick up the 16th (or so) pick in this draft, and additional picks in 2015, 2016 and 2018. And that 2016 Nets' pick has the potential to be tremendously valuable as Brooklyn will be suiting up $61 million worth of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson come 2015-16. A trio that will only be older and more fragile than it already is. Financially this deal would save Minnesota $11 million in 2014-15 and an additional $5 million in 2015-16, meaning a total savings of $16 million over two seasons. Not exactly chump change for a small market team. Whenever a team is dealing their superstar, they need to do three things: acquire young talent, acquire draft picks, and shed salary. Minnesota accomplishes all three in this deal, and I cannot see another team offering more.
Why Boston does the deal: Because Kevin Love is very good at playing basketball. In the past month, KLove is averaging 33 PPG, 14 RPG and 4 APG while putting up 49/38/86 shooting splits. He's the best rebounder in basketball, the best outlet passer in basketball, and a sure fire without question top ten player in basketball. No, he's not a defensive stud, but over the course of his career the Wolves have consistently allowed fewer points per possession with him on the court than when he goes to the bench. In all, Love has the single biggest impact on his team in the NBA. With him on the court this season, the Wolves score 114 points per 100 possessions, and allow 105. That +9 per 100 pace is better than any team in the Association. When he goes to the bench, they fall apart, scoring only 99 per 100 possessions, and allowing 108. In other words: when he plays..they're better than the Heat/Pacers/Thunder, and when he sits, they're equivalent to the Bucks.
Now, the Celtics are clearly giving up a ton here, but that's the price you need to pay to acquire a 25-year-old superstar just entering his prime. Plus, the Celtics have so many assets that they'd hardly be leaving the cupboard bare. After the dust settled from this deal, the Celtics would still have: their own pick in 2014 (crazy valuable), the Clippers 2015 pick, their own pick in 2016 and 2017 (with the right to swap with Brooklyn), and the Nets pick in 2018. Their treasure chest of picks dips from nine to five between 2014-2018..but the five remaining picks have a bunch of value.
All of a sudden you have a core of: Rondo, Love and an upper lottery pick in 2014, and if the Celtics can nail that pick -- you may have your big three.
Chances Boston says yes: 90%
Chances Minnesota says yes: 66.7%
Boston Trades: Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Keith Bogans, Boston's first-round pick in 2014, The Clippers' 2015 first-round pick and Minnesota's choice of one of the Nets' first-round picks.
Minnesota Trades: Kevin Love and Chase Budinger
This is a similar package I suggested Boston could offer the Clippers for Blake Griffin a few days ago. If it looks like a big haul for the Timberwolves, that's because it is. Love is arguably the best power forward in the game today and has many prime years left at just 25 years old. To acquire a player like that, you have to give up many assets. Love would make Sullinger redundant, unless coach Brad Stevens wanted to play Love and Sullinger together for the least athletic front court in recent memory with a point guard who loves to run. Bradley is a restricted free agent at season's end and reports are he wants to be paid more than Boston is willing to offer. If reports at the trade deadline are true, Boston couldn't even get a first-round pick for Bradley, so assuming the team could get a nice package for him in a sign-and-trade this summer might be unrealistic.
For Boston, they get a perennial all-star to pair with their own perennial all-star in Rajon Rondo. A Love/Rondo core puts Boston right back into the thick of contention. Obviously, other moves would still need to be made to bring in another near all-star before the Celtics would be seen as a real title threat, but this deal would lay the groundwork and attracting players to Boston immediately becomes easier with two superstars already on the roster.
Any concerns about Love leaving as a free agent in 2015 should be minor. Once in Boston, players usually don't leave because of the chance to add to the legacy of the Celtics and the loyalty the fans show. The exception, of course, was Ray Allen, but he was pretty much fourth banana at that point and could be replaced.
As much as the Celtics would be giving up in this deal, they'd still be left with plenty of assets. They'd still have either the Nets' or the Hawks' first rounder this year, all of their own picks from 2015 on, two future first rounders from Brooklyn and more second-round picks than I care to count.
For Minnesota, they get two real nice up-and-coming players in Sullinger and Bradley and three first round picks, including one that could land them a future all-star with Boston's 2014 pick. Bogans can be waived at any point for instant savings and Bass would be expiring next year. Minnesota doesn't want to trade Love, but they may not have a choice and instead of losing him for nothing as a free agent, this package is about as much as they can get. They would be hitting the reset button yet again, but that falls on the front office for failing to properly build around Love. Even so, that 2014 pick from Boston has to be included just to get the conversation started because while the team would be rebuilding again, the Timberwolves are going to want more bang for their buck right away so they don't totally alienate their fan base.
Chances Boston Accepts: 70%
Chances Minnesota Accepts: 85%
Boston Trades: Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Keith Bogans, Boston's 2014 1st, Brooklyn's 2015 1st, Boston's 2016 1st
Minnesota Trades: Kevin Love
This is admittedly a lot for the Boston Celtics to give up on a guy who could leave town in 12 months. But this is the NBA, and if you've got the opportunity to secure a franchise player you've got to go for it. This'll sound like I'm on my 5th round of Green Kool Aid, but I think you look to capitalize on providing him with what he hasn't had: Competent management, and a winning environment.
The impact Love could have on this team really can't be understated. He's a heady, go-to scorer, who (along with Rondo) could give teams nightmares in pick and pop scenarios. Immediately, you have a strong foundation moving forward.
A less obvious impact? He lets players on the current roster take a step down into a role they'd be more comfortable in. Jeff Green isn't a go-to scorer. He can't even be relied on to put up double digits on a consistent basis. But could he be Diet Luol Deng? Sure. He's a good perimeter defender, shoots well from the corner, finishes at an OK rate and can occasionally get really hot. Again, to be clear, I'm not even saying the guy's capable of making an all star game - but he could excel as a third option. The same could be said for a (healthy) Avery Bradley if the Celtics chose to resign him. Well, that's the...
Could Rondo, Bradley, Green, Love and a center win a championship? No. Could it if the team could hit or capitalize on the Brooklyn/Atlanta pick this year, their own pick and the Clippers' in 2015, Brooklyn's in 2016 & 2017, and the right to swap with Brooklyn in 2018? Absolutely. And really, that (along with an extra year of guaranteed money) is your pitch to Kevin Love to stay in green.
For Minnesota, the writings on the wall. The guy is as good as gone, and they need to cash in on him while they still can. In this offer they get a young, blossoming Power Forward in Sullinger to immediately sell to their fans. He's not going to sell a gazillion jerseys, but he's the kind of player a fan could talk themselves into. And if I'm Minnesota, I'd rather take the 'sure thing' in Sullinger, as opposed to the gamble another first round pick. Like Love, he's intelligent, has decent range, rebounds at an exceptional rate, and his interior game is getting better. He's just not anywhere nearly as good as Kevin Love.
That's why Minnesota gets three other piks. A 2014 First in a loaded draft that figures to be anywhere between 3 and 7, and a 2015 Brooklyn pick that figures to be at the very least in the teens. From a basketball standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for Minnesota. They move forward with Sullinger, Pekovic, maybe Rubio, two lottery picks this year, and at least one in 2015, with a Brooklyn pick that damn well could be.
It'll be hard for them to lose another Star Power Forward, and to Boston none-the-less. But, and this is worth revisiting, the Garnett trade wasn't the colossal steal for us that it's often made out to be. Minnesota straight blew every asset they got. They traded Al Jefferson (for what turned to be Chase Budinger and Kosta Koufos), Drafted Jonny Flynn with the 4th pick in the 2008 draft (in a PG heavy draft that had Steph Curry, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague go after him), Let go Of Gerald Green (well, that's kinda fair), and ended up drafting Wayne Ellington in 2009 (in front of Danny Green, Marcus Thornton and Chase Budinger just to name a few) . The blood is on David Kahn's hands, not Kevin McHale's. And really, it's what's forcing them to have to trade Love now.
Chances Boston Accepts Trade: 80%
Chances Minnesota Accepts: 70%