If an adjusted NBA trade has to go down between the Celtics and Cavs, it’s entirely possible that Danny Ainge could enter the name of Kevin Love into the mix.
Ainge and the Celtics have long sought Love, and much like Kyrie Irving the thought among the Boston brass is that LeBron James has held back Love in a way. Love and Irving’s games much better complement a player like Gordon Hayward over LeBron. Imagine the floor spacing schemes Brad Stevens would be able to use with Irving slashing to the basket and with Love and Hayward on the wings?
The hang-up on this type of deal, of course, is money. There is no realistic scenario where Irving and Love come to the Celtics without Boston having to give up a monster contract.
That’s why – even if a Love to Boston deal never transpires – expect Al Horford’s name to soon be brought up in potential blockbuster NBA trade rumors involving the Celtics. He’s the proverbial “next one to go” if the Celtics don’t believe he can be the third best player on a championship NBA team anymore.
Horford is making $5 million more per year than Love (both players can become unrestricted free agents in 2020), so money-wise it would make a boatload of sense for the Celtics going forward. Love is also still just 28-years-old (Horford is 31), he would fit perfectly into that “timeline” Ainge keeps talking about, and he averaged 11.1 rebounds per game last season. Rebounding has long been a weakness for the Stevens Celtics, and Love would certainly be an upgrade over Horford on the glass.
The Cavs have been trying to trade Love for some time now and he was nearly dealt in June to the Nuggets in a three-way trade with Indiana that would have landed Paul George in Cleveland. That was before all hell broke loose in Cleveland with the LeBron to LA rumors, the David Griffin mess, and Irving’s displeasure with the direction of the organization. So it’s unclear as to how much new GM Koby Altman enjoys Love’s game.
If the Cavs were to make a deal involving shipping out Irving and Love to their main competition in the Eastern Conference, that would mean that they truly are waiving the white flag when it comes to LeBron Era No. 2. Altman is hell-bent on prying even more draft picks out of Boston’s stash and seems much more concerned with the long-term future than 2017-18.
One thing we’ve learned over the past few months with both of these teams is to never say never on the NBA trade market.