Like the rest of us, the Celtics are watching the remainder of the 2015 NBA playoffs from the couch. It was a fun regular season, but they simply lost to a much better Cleveland Cavaliers team in the first round. In fact, the Cavs were so good that they now represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Who can they thank? None other than LeBron James – he’ll be the first to tell you that. Kyrie Irving also played a huge role, and Tristan Thompson perhaps more than anybody else on the Cavs has really shown his worth.
Not mentioned? Kevin Love.
Love can thank Kelly Olynyk for ending his postseason early, an accident with an unfortunate outcome. But Love had an up-and-down season up to that point, his first with the Cavs. He looked like a square peg in a round hole on numerous occasions, and found himself on the bench in key situations – not to mention out of James’ postgame pictures.
And here’s something else we learned: Perhaps Love wasn’t really needed on the Cavs. They did, after all, eliminate the Bulls and Hawks without him to reach the NBA Finals.
Love was already known as a relatively poor defender, and he did nothing to change that perception this season.
So what does that mean for his value? Could Love’s season in Cleveland actually hurt his appeal to a team like the Celtics?
The fact is, it shouldn’t change anything.
First of all, the Celtics are not the Cavaliers. They don’t have a LeBron James or a Kyrie Irving. They have a group of young, hard-working players, but no All-Stars (though a couple players might have a shot down the road). If Love were to sign with the Celtics, he would become the team’s best player, and yes, they would become a better team. There is no question as to whether or not he “fits,” because as of right now there’s nobody on this Celtics team he needs to fit around. Love ,along with Isaiah Thomas is a little sketchy defensively, but a solid start nonetheless.
As far as title contenders go, the Celtics most resembled the Atlanta Hawks this season. But as we saw in the East Finals, that blueprint wasn’t an overwhelming success – if one part of the machine falters or breaks, the whole thing shuts down.
The Celtics need a star player to build around, and they’re in no position to be picky about who it is if one becomes available.
Is Love the best free agent this offseason? No. Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge are better players – and DeAndre Jordan would also fill a huge need.
But Love might be the most available to Boston, and for that reason they should and most likely will put a call in to him at 12:01 a.m. on July 1.