Danny Ainge is the father of four boys. None of them are named “Kevin,” which is odd.
His best buddy from the 1980s Celtics is Kevin McHale. Kevin Garnett, who was gift-wrapped by McHale in a 2007 trade, made the Celtics immediate championship contenders again after a 21-year title drought. Also, the two star players in the league right now that Ainge lusts over most are Kevin Durant and Kevin Love.
The chances that Ainge is able to lure Durant to Boston this summer are about as good right now as Donald Trump asking Mitt Romney to be his running mate (read: not good). Durant’s best shot at getting to the NBA Finals next year is staying put in Oklahoma City. It also makes great economical sense for him to stay in OKC.
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With the Durant-to-Boston dream mostly dead, the question remains as to how Ainge and the Celtics can possibly get an impact player on the level of a Garnett or Durant here this summer?
The sad answer is, they can’t.
There are no other players on the trade or free agent market right now that are on an MVP-level like a KG was and a KD is.
The Celtics may be stuck with having to go after Love. Everything you hear says that Ainge and Celtics ownership is going for a home run, or at least a triple, this summer. They want to at least be in the Eastern Conference Finals next season.
Love will be the most attainable “star” player out there this summer as LeBron the Cavs will not want him back in Cleveland.
Love has been atrocious in the Finals so far, and is the square peg in the round hole that is holding the Cavs back from winning it all. In Cleveland’s Game 5 road win at Golden State on Monday night, which featured Hurculean efforts by LeBron and Kyrie Irving, Loved scored two points, had three rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes of play. Even if the Cavs’ game plan going in was to simply “give it to LeBron and Kyrie and get the hell out of the way,” a two-point game in 33 minutes of play is alarming. Most any other power forward in the league gets at least six points and four rebounds by accident in 33 minutes of play.
The good news for the Celtics is that the Cavs’ asking price for Love is going to go dramatically down. Cleveland wants players that can contribute now and the Celtics can offer a pu pu platter of guys (Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger) that would fit exceptionally well in a Cavs system that is fueled by LeBron and Irving. Ainge might not even have to let go of this year’s No. 3 pick – a statement that got me laughed off the Internet this past February at the deadline.
The Celtics are in a position of power now with Cleveland. The Cavs have to get rid of Love, and Ainge knows that full well.
So, let’s say the Celtics do give up a group of their top players for Love. What does that leave them with?
A nucleus of Love, Isaiah Thomas and this No. 3 pick is nice, but it’s still not championship level. Ainge would have to trade away the 3-pick for one of these other fringe superstars on the trade market or finally convince a star free agent to come to Boston to even get to Eastern Conference Finals-level status.
So, expectations for Ainge-executed “fireworks” this summer should again be tempered. They should be tempered not because of a lack of relatively big transactions but they should be tempered because of the potential return.
See, Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant have won MVP trophies.
Kevin Love never has, and never will. He’s the lowest impact Kevin of the lot.