BOSTON — In the story of the Kevin Love sweepstakes, it seems like a new chapter is being written everyday. The Celtics’ chances of landing the big man have shifted seemingly by the minute as additional suitors have emerged in the race to acquire the All-Star power forward.
With less than a week to go before the 2014 NBA Draft, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind while digesting the ever-changing Love reports and considering Boston’s chances of bringing Love to town.
1) If the Celtics are going to acquire Love, it probably has to happen by the end of draft night.
Think about it this way: Two of Boston’s strongest trade chips are their two first round picks for this year at the no. 6 and no. 17 slots. A league source indicated to CBSBostonSports.com that rookies are rarely traded during the summer in which they are selected, unless it’s on draft night itself.
This is true for a couple of reasons. First, once a rookie signs his new contract, he cannot be traded for 30 days. Assuming a player signs his new deal a couple days after the June 26th draft, that would keep him from being traded during the month of July, the period in which the Wolves will likely move Love by if they do deal him this summer.
Additionally, teams don’t draft for other teams unless they know a deal is getting done. Danny Ainge can’t head into draft night with the idea that he is selecting players he may end up sending to Minnesota for Love a few days later. He needs to know whether the guys he’s picking are for his team or for the team he is doing business with, because Flip Saunders’ draft big board probably doesn’t match up with Ainge’s.
Right now, the Wolves are reportedly not enamored with Boston’s list of assets. If you take the sixth and 17th overall pick out of those assets, any Boston offer loses even more luster, since any other future first round picks can’t guarantee a pick as high as the team’s sixth overall selection this year.
Put all of this together and you come to a pretty rational conclusion: If Love isn’t in Boston by the end of draft night, he’s probably not coming at all this summer.
2) The Celtics probably haven’t put forth their best trade offer yet for a reason.
A report today from Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald indicates that the best offer the Celtics have put forward thus far for Love consists of both 2014 first round picks, a future first round pick, and Kelly Olynyk. It’s no wonder why Minnesota “isn’t impressed” with Boston’s offer if that’s the case.
Ainge is likely holding back his best offer in this instance as he tries to gauge what the market is offering for Love. He knows the kind of deal outlined above isn’t going to get the job done for Love, but showing up with his best offer the week before Minnesota is likely to make a decision does him no good in negotiations.
The Wolves are going to do their due diligence with a player like Love and try to push up his price as much as possible around the league before determining whether they want to trade him. There’s no need for Boston to help them out with that now with a rich offer that Minnesota can shop around and try to get other suitors to match or top.
The wise play here for Ainge is to wait until the draft approaches before making his best offer. Right now, the Celtics are surely doing their best to try to match Minnesota’s demands (via a third team) or biding their team before anteing up an improved offer with another first round pick and/or player (Jared Sullinger).
Unlike other teams, Ainge has shown over the past decade that he’s not afraid to act. As other teams continue to posture in negotiations with big names, Celtics fans can rest assured that Ainge will not be afraid to pull the trigger on a major move if an opportunity presents itself.
We should find out whether he has enough assets to make that splash by Thursday night.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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