The Celtics shouldn't trade Jae Crowder for Kevin Love

Not even just as a swap

This past Tuesday on the Lowe Post Podcast ESPN's Brian Windhorst suggested that the Cleveland Cavaliers trade Kevin Love to the Celtics for Avery Bradley & Jae Crowder. And that trade proposal - which appeared to be nothing more than Fantasy GM'ng - got me to do an extensive amount of thinking about Kevin Love's overall value. Ultimately, ending up with an unexpected conclusion: Not only would I not want the Celtics to do that trade, I wouldn't want them to trade Crowder for Love in a straight swap.

As a fan, I have to continuously remind myself not to overall my own team's players. And that's a lot more difficult than it sounds, particularly with a roster filled with really nice complimentary piece who are coming off a surprisingly fun season despite it's early departure. That last part, the early departure, is why performing this exercise is so important. Jae Crowder (& Avery Bradley) are nice, complimentary players but not a whole lot more.

Kevin Love has become one of the league's strangest puzzles. He's undoubtedly talented, and he almost undoubtedly could be used better than he is in Cleveland, but his value is difficult to gauge. Jonathan Tjarks did a great job breaking this down earlier in the week on The Ringer

Building around Love isn’t easy. He doesn’t have the foot speed to defend on the perimeter or the size and length to protect the rim, which means he isn’t going to be effective at either of the most effective strategies for defending the pick-and-roll — perhaps the most vital task of the modern 4...

The best-case scenario for Love is a career track that follows that of Dirk Nowitzki, another offensive-minded stretch-4 who needed defensive-minded personnel around him to be successful. Love needs his Tyson Chandler, and it doesn’t appear that player is on the horizon in Cleveland. Love isn’t nearly as versatile an offensive player as Dirk. He cannot consistently take smaller players off the dribble, and he doesn’t have the same height and length to allow him to shoot over the top of longer players in the post. In an ideal scenario, Love needs a more offensive-minded version of Chandler, a guy who can command a double-team and collapse interior defenses like his former teammate Nikola Pekovic, while still being able to step out on the perimeter and give Love room to operate in the post.

In other words, Love needs a unicorn. A unicorn like Karl-Anthony Towns.

Acquiring Love doesn't just mean moving a few assets, it's changing the trajectory of how you're going to build. For the Celtics, simply moving Crowder for Love means the Celtics need to..

  1. Bring back Amir Johnson, or find a defensive minded big to pair with Love
  2. Find another defensive big on the bench for when Amir is on the bench or hurt 
  3. Find a small forward to replace Crowder
  4. Figure out what they'd like to do with Kelly Olynyk who can't play w/ Love on court
  5. Embrace traditional lineups (Love can't play center)
  6. Not draft Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss
All, without really knowing if doing these things will actually make this team all that much better. Because that's the problem with Love: He's not really meant to be a complimentary piece, but he's also not good enough to build around.

 A team of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kevin Love, Amir Johnson and your choice of Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Kris Dunn still feels like it's another superstar away. Adding a superstar like Kevin Durant to the equation clearly makes the team a lot better, but it puts Love back in the role he's struggled with in Cleveland - he's not a great spot up shooter, and a notoriously subpar defender.

Which gets me back to my thesis: If he's not good enough to improve this roster in himself, and he can't compliment a star - why trade a good player on a good contract for him?