How the Celtics could still benefit from a Kevin Love to Cleveland deal

Last week I posted about how the Celtics have begun to accept that they're no longer in the Kevin Love race, as when all the dust is settled, there's not a truly compelling argument for either side to say 'no' in a potential Wiggins for Love trade. However, the Celtics could potentially benefit in the trade as a facilitator, as they're uniquely equipped with two trade exceptions, and a sizeable unguaranteed contract.

Below is what I believe to be the most likely trade in which the Celtics could improve their roster:

The Cavs get Love. The Timberwolves get Wiggins, and a player they've been rumored to be interested in to replace Love, while shedding Kevin Martin and JJ Barea's contract. And the 76ers gladly capitalize on Flip Saunders' insistence on getting back an NBA-proven player because for some delusional reason, he thinks his team can make the playoffs.

While I think Barea and especially Martin are still useful players, for the Celtics this trade would be 100% about Gorgui Dieng. The Senegal Slayer (a 100% fictional nickname that I just made up) is a 24 year old, 6 foot 11 inch tall, super-athletic - wait for it - rim protector, who showed great maturation throughout his rookie year. A quick look at his stats might be a bit underwhelming at first, but when Dieng got minutes last season, he produced; averaging 10.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and nearly a steal a game in his final 22 games.

But adding a young rim-protecting prospect does come at a price; specifically the near 7 million dollars Kevin Martin stands to make for the following three seasons (though his third is a player option, he'll also be 33 years old at that point). It's not a massive sum and it is somewhat possible that he could be flipped again (for all the negativity towards him, he scored over 19 points a game last season, and was .387 from 3), but 7 million dollars is still significant and could be too tough of a pill for a contending to take (even if it was for nothing). Particularly to a team who aspires to be able to attract top tier free agents next season.

So would this trade effect our salary moving forward? It's a little complicated:

editor's note: Evan Turner's number is a complete guess

Two things stick out as potential immediate issues: That's 17 players overall, and roughly 7 million dollars over the luxury tax line.

Getting back to 15 players probably wouldn't be too difficult. Phil Pressey could be included in the proposed trade (instead of Babb or Johnson whose money isn't guaranteed) or just released. Similarly, we could potentially find someone interested in Barea's talents - though the money, even though it's just a season - might make it a little more difficult or outright release him.

The luxury tax is a more difficult issue. But before we dive too far into this, it's worth mentioning that this ownership has absolutely shown a willingness to spend; Just accepting having to pay the luxury tax for a season isn't out of the question. They just effectively spent 8 million dollars they didn't have to spend on Marcus Thornton to acquire Tyler Zeller and a late first round pick, and then just spent a few extra million in hopes that Evan Turner turns it around. This ownership team gets it, and they don't receive nearly enough praise for that.

However, if they're insistent on not paying the Celtics could choose to use the 'stretch provision' on Gerald Wallace. The 'stretch provision' would allow the Celtics to waive Wallace, and pay the remaining amount of his salary over the double the length of his contract plus a year. Doing so would allow the Celtics to get right around the luxury tax line, however it would hurt their flexibility moving forward. And that really could be a sticking point in the trade.

Here's what our books would look like if we were to stretch Wallace.

That lack of flexibility might not be that big of a deal, though, because if the Celtics are going to make a splash in free agency in the near future, they'll likely do it next summer. Still, in an ideal world the Celtics pay the luxury tax and consider Wallace a season later.

With the addition of Martin and Dieng, and the stretching of Wallace the Celtics would have 44.8 million dollars committed next season, though it's very likely that Jeff Green will choose to opt out. That means the Celtics would enter next offseason with 35.6 million dollars committed (roughly 33 million under the cap). Without Martin, 28 million (roughly 40 million under the cap).

To me, the loss in available cap space that Martin presents would be worth the price of Dieng for the Celtics. 33 million dollars is still a significant amount of money to be able to spend on 2 young stars, and as we're seeing with the Hawks, being under the cap isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to land impact players. Personally, I'd rather spend a combined 8 million dollars on a young, athletic prospect and a shooting guard who can stretch the floor, then to stow it away on a rainy day.

Is Dieng as good as Kevin Love? No. Not by any means. But picking up Dieng on the Free Love Freeway is certainly better than nothing.