One of the worst kept secrets in the NBA has been the Cavaliers’ pursuit of Timberwolves forward Kevin Love after LeBron James announced he would return to his hometown team in a first-person Sports Illustrated essay July 11.
Arguably the biggest holdup to the deal was Love’s contract situation, as he’s slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of next season.
But that issue is now resolved, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Love, 25, has reportedly agreed to sign a five-year, $120 million extension with the Cavaliers after the deal is finalized later this month.
The Timberwolves will supposedly receive Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round in exchange for the Love’s services. Wiggins can’t officially be traded until Aug. 23.
Timberwolves part-owner, president and head coach Flip Saunders (that’s a mouthful, huh?) can sell to his fan base that he received the last two number one overall picks for his All-Star power forward. It was seemingly inevitable that Love wouldn’t re-sign in Minnesota, so it’s best for the team to move him now instead of lose him for nothing next summer.
The Celtics were linked to Love for much of the off-season, especially in the immediate aftermath of his much-publicized visit to Boston in early June. But Saunders was apparently less than enamored with the prospect of negotiating with Danny Ainge, partially due to the lopsided Kevin Garnett trade in 2007.
Another hindrance to the trade besides a potentially fractured relationship between the teams’ top executives was that the Celtics also don’t possess the assets to land a player of Love’s caliber at this stage. Though the club could potentially own nine first-round picks over the next five years, they have few desirable chips on their roster. Nobody on the Celtics possesses as much value as Wiggins, or arguably even Bennett to a retooling squad.
Now that Love is no longer a possibility, Ainge’s next big decision will involve how to handle Rajon Rondo. The dynamic, if not occasionally mercurial point guard will be a free agent in 2015, and has continually expressed his desire to test the open market.
It would be disastrous if the Celtics failed to re-sign Rondo, and allowed him to walk next June. There appears to be little incentive for Rondo to remain in Boston unless the club offers him a maximum contract, which may not be the best use of resources.
It took Ainge several years to obtain the assets that made it possible for him to trade for Ray Allen and Garnett prior to the 2007-08 championship campaign. This most recent rebuilding process will enter its second season in October, and would likely be accelerated if Ainge dealt Rondo prior to the league’s trade deadline in February.
The Celtics have added guards Marcus Smart, James Young, Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner to an already crowded backcourt this off-season. Redundancy at the point guard position, and a need to lose as many games as possible next season have arguably made Rondo more expendable than ever before.
Now that Love is out of the picture, it’s time for the Celtics to completely tear the team down. Keeping Rondo around will accomplish nothing except impede the rebuilding process.