The second the final horn sounded at Oracle Arena on Memorial Day Monday, Kevin Durant’s free agency became trending topic No. 1 in NBA circles. Talk of the actual Finals was a distant No. 2.
It’s hot stove season for the fans of the 28 NBA teams that aren’t playing basketball right now, and odd as it is to say – the Warriors and Cavaliers aren’t really in the conversation. Yet.
If the Cavaliers do lose the series to Golden State like they look like they’re going to, they will immediately become the most intriguing team around. LeBron still has that promise to fulfill to “The Land,” so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he stays put. Ditto for Kyrie Irving. But Kevin Love, the third wheel of this operation, will immediately be floated in every trade scenario imaginable. LeBron and the Cavs’ brass will want to find pieces that fit better in their scheme than Love, even if that means selling off the proverbial dollar for four quarters.
Two places, in particular, look like great landing spots for Love if things go south for Cleveland in the next week or so.
Love has been rumored to the Celtics since like 2004 – and yes, for the record, I’d have given up Jiri Welsch straight up.
Danny Ainge’s man crush on Love is well-known as the Celtics have held consistent interest in acquiring him. The C’s made a run at Love as recently as February’s trade deadline.
“If [the Cavs lose in the Finals] again, I’d bet big on Love being elsewhere — a split that might end up the best thing for everyone,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote a few months back. “Cleveland and Boston had trade talks for Love at the deadline, though they died with Boston offering a low-ball package the Cavs wouldn’t consider, according to several league sources. Even if Boston’s interest has faded, someone will call Cleveland about Love around the draft. (Andrew) Wiggins has more trade value than Love now, but that deal was the right move at the time.”
The Cavs may very well re-consider that “low ball” offer as they will want to make change for LeBron’s … errr … change sake. Obtaining a defensive-oriented guard like the Celtics’ Marcus Smart and/or Avery Bradley would boost the Cavs’ chances of finally taking down Golden State and the Splash Bros. Remember that the Celtics nearly went 2-0 against the Warriors this past season.
Boston would obviously need to give up more, but it has the draft picks to spare. The Cavs could then flip one or more Celtics picks for even more immediate help.
“It almost makes too much sense for it not to happen," Tjarks wrote. "The 27-year-old Love embeds within Kristaps Porzingis’s timetable in New York better than the 32-year-old Anthony, and it’s not clear how a rebuilding Knicks team will be able to contend in the remaining years of Carmelo’s prime. Carmelo and LeBron have talked about playing together for years, while Carmelo’s ability to attack off the dribble as a 3/4 combo forward is exactly the player the Cavs need to contend with the Warriors.
"Kristaps Porzingis is the Latvian Karl-Anthony Towns. He may not be quite as versatile, but he’s every bit his equal as a shot-blocker and a 3-point shooter. There might not be another big man who is better suited for the Triangle than Love; he would thrive as a facilitator and a post-up player operating from the elbow. It’s a lot of moving parts, but this trade is the easiest route toward a win-win resolution for the Cavaliers and Love.”
NBA Trade Machine junkies rejoice – a Love ($19.689 million) for Anthony ($22.875 million) trade works, straight-up.