Boston Celtics Could Be Frontrunners In Kevin Love Trade Sweepstakes

The games might be done with, but the NBA season is never over. As league followers continue to bask in the brilliance of the 2014 champion San Antonio Spurs, front offices are well into the process of building their teams through the draft and free agency. The epicenter of all the coming player movement is Kevin Love, who has made his intentions to opt-out of his contract and leave the Minnesota Timberwolves after this season abundantly clear. Though there are multiple teams that seem like realistic destinations for Love, ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that the Boston Celtics might have emerged as frontrunners.

In his latest mock draft for ESPN Insider, Ford says that sources tell him the Timberwolves believe that Boston’s offer for Love might be the best they are going to get (Insider only).

But I continue to get strong signals that the Celtics are trying hard to use pick No. 6 and 17 along with future No. 1s and young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk to persuade the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade them Kevin Love. One source close to the Wolves said that while Flip Saunders does not want to trade Love, he realizes the team likely will lose him this summer and the package the Celtics are offering is probably the best he’s going to get. Given the strength of the draft, picks 6, 13 and 17 could land them three young starters to help them rebuild their roster quickly.

While the Celtics don’t have a building block-worthy youngster on their roster to offer Minnesota and Rajon Rondo wouldn’t be part of any deal between the teams, it’s realistic to think their stable of draft considerations could ultimately sway Saunders and company. Boston not only has the sixth and 17th selections in the 2014 draft, but unprotected future first-round picks from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015 and the Brooklyn Nets in 2016 and 2018.

It’s the Brooklyn picks that should interest the Timberwolves most. Though Mikhail Prokhorov has shown he’ll spend even unreasonable amounts of luxury tax penalties to ensure his team is competitive, the Nets’ future is still murky at best. Declining stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are locked into max-level contracts through 2016, and Brook Lopez has a player option for that season, too. Other than Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn has no young players it can count on as a future cog, either. Basically, it wouldn’t shock if the picks that the Nets owe Boston in 2016 and 2018 are in the lottery, and perhaps even its top-half.

That should be an intriguing proposition for Minnesota even if it means an extended rebuild and no guarantee those selections will be so valuable. Being forced to trade a player like Love is never ideal and always necessitates a major roster upheaval that takes years to complete. If the Timberwolves have the prudence for patience, ultimately taking the relative gamble on the Celtics’ offer of a young player and present/future draft picks could certainly be their best option. Only time will tell if the front office is comfortable with that approach. Remember, Minnesota has missed the playoffs every year since 2005 and is starved for a postseason appearance as a result.

On the other hand, part of trading for Love is an assurance that he’ll re-sign with his new team long-term. While some teams like the Sacramento Kings might be willing to acquire him without such security, it’s unlikely that Danny Ainge and the Celtics feel the same way. Fortunately for them, Love appears interested in Boston, having recently taken in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park with Rondo.

Would Love look good in a Celtics jersey?

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