We're in for another Kevin Love to the Celtics kind of summer in Boston.
While Kevin Love's Cleveland Cavaliers gear up to take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals this week without him, talk about the injured forward opting out of his contract and joining the Celtics are already heating up.
According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, Love may not be in Cleveland next season. Wojnarowski joined The Jason McIntyre Show on Yahoo Sports Radio and said that the Celtics and the Lakers are two teams Love will consider signing a long-term deal with if he decides to leave the Cavs this summer.
"I think he's going to look around," Wojnarowski said. "I think he's going to look closely at Boston. I think he'll look at LA. I'm sure the Texas teams are going to try and get involved.
"If you remember, he really liked Kevin McHale in Minnesota. Would he fit potentially in Houston? It seems like every summer, they have the ability to go out and create a max slot, and they do this summer again. They know they have the option to do that."Although Love put up good numbers in his first season in Cleveland (16.4 points, 9.7 rebounds), the Cavs have clearly proven that they can succeed without him. Before Love dislocated his shoulder against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, he struggled to fit in with his team throughout the regular season.
His scoring average increased a bit against the Celtics in the playoffs (19 points, 9.4 rebounds), a sign that maybe he was starting to fit into Cleveland's offense, but is Cleveland the best place for Love? Can he ever reach his full potential like he did in Minnesota as a Cavalier?
My guess is that the seven-year, three time all-star wants to be in a situation where he can lead a contending team and be the focal point. Love wants to lead a club's offense and compete; something that Minnesota and Cleveland couldn't offer him. Minnesota couldn't surround him with enough talent to be successful and in one season as a Cavalier, Kevin quickly found out that he will always play third fiddle to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
If Love ultimately decides to opt-in with the Cavs for one more season and become a free agent next summer, Cleveland will have an even tougher task of divvying up their salary cap between their starting lineup. Not only will James and Love become free agents next summer but so will Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith (assuming he will opt-in to his player option this summer); two players who have earn themselves a raise in Cleveland.
Wojnarowski added that the Celtics are a "real, legitimate possibility." And added that the Celtics will try to recruit the potential free agent.
"I think Boston would be interesting," Wojnarowski said. "Stevens and Danny are a very interesting recruiting duo to sell him on how they'd use him there."Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has to do everything he can to try and sign Love. The Celtics desperately need a rebounder. The Celtics desperately need a go-to scorer. Kevin Love can be both.
When Love was the focal point in Minnesota's offense two seasons ago he put up eye-popping numbers, MVP-type numbers: 26 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists; proof of what he's capable of. If Love opts out of his deal, Ainge will do his best to convince him that his best chances of averaging those numbers again while competing for a championship is in Boston.
Love could also put up those same Minnesota numbers in LA but how deep in the playoffs will him and Kobe take the Lakers in the Western Conference? And if next season is Kobe's last like he says it is, how many seasons will it take for the Lakers to get back to becoming the dominate franchise they were throughout 2000-2010?
Lakers, like the Celtics, do have cap space but unlike the Celtics they don't have young, promising players. Nor do they have the draft picks and trade exceptions that Ainge has stockpiled to eventually use as trading chips to acquire talent in the near future.
Will Kevin Love alone bring the Celtics a championship? Absolutely not. But he's good enough to attract another player, he's good enough to make it out of the first round, he's good enough to compete in the Eastern Conference.