BOSTON (CBS) — What is expected to be a very busy summer for the Boston Celtics could turn into the summer of Love.
Kevin Love has reportedly told the Minnesota Timberwolves that he will opt out of his contract after next season, making it likely that Minnesota will trade the All Star power forward this off-season. And with their plethora of first-round picks over the next few years and a nice collection of young talent, the Celtics will be there to make a hard run at Love according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
A lot will hinge on Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery, when Boston learns what pick they’ll have in next month’s draft. Odds are they’ll land either the fifth or sixth overall pick, which Wojnarowski says would appeal to the Timberwolves given the talent in the draft and Boston’s ability to add additional future picks, young talent such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, and even some salary cap relief. Boston owns nine first-round picks over the next five years.
Love, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for Minnesota last season, has never made it to the postseason since being acquired by the Wolves back in 2008. The UCLA product was drafted fifth overall by Memphis before being traded for third-overall pick O.J. Mayo in an eight-player swap.
There will be plenty other teams vying for the services of Love. The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors are all on the short list of possible landing spots for the 25-year-old Love, who has averaged 19.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game over his career.
Love has a close relationship with Houston head coach Kevin McHale, who was with the Timberwolves when they acquired Love in 2008. That could give Houston an edge in the race for Love, but they don’t have the amount of assets the Celtics could offer. Wojnarowski also notes one other connection between the Celtics and Love:
Love’s agent Jeff Schwartz and Ainge have a strong relationship and a good working history. Ainge helped another Schwartz client, Paul Pierce, get to a preferred trade destination in Brooklyn a year ago. The Celtics believe they can sell Love on becoming the next big Celtics star, and all the adulation that comes with that for a franchise that has won 17 NBA championships.
A big factor in acquiring Love will be convincing the three-time All Star to sign a long-term deal. The Celtics will have room to add at least one max-contract this season, and signing Love could help their efforts to lock point guard Rajon Rondo long-term as well.