The San Antonio Spurs’ dismissal of the Heat in five games Sunday night also meant “game on” for the 28 other teams in the league, as the “summer of switch” has begun. This particular offseason in the NBA is expected to be the wildest in years, with great player movement across the landscape. At the front of most every trade, free agent and draft rumor right now is the Celtics – who just a year ago blew up the core of their team in the form of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade to Brooklyn.
Outside of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Celtics have been linked to a handful of huge NBA names. Here’s a look at the likelihood these big fish will be wearing green this upcoming season.
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We’ve been on this bandwagon since the news of the trade to Brooklyn broke a year ago. Was there a wink and a nod between Pierce and Danny Ainge about the summer of 2014? Pierce has always said he wants to be part of a front office when he retires and it would make a ton of sense to see him re-sign with the Celtics at low money this summer - with assurance he’d be Ainge’s right hand man in a year or two and recoup some lost money. Pierce closing out his career with the Celtics would be great news for nearly everyone involved in this year-long saga … except maybe Nets GM Billy King.
Likelihood he’s in green: Good, believe it or not.
The Celtics were the perceived front-runners a few weeks back when Love seemingly had a beer in every bar from Medford to Quincy over the course of 48 hours. The C’s will be in the mix for his services, but the Timberwolves look as though they may roll the dice, let Love play out this season under Flip Saunders and hope he re-evaluates the situation in Minnesota in 2015. Plus, the Bulls, Warriors, Mavericks, Rockets Lakers and Cavaliers are all in the running if he’s on the market. That’s a lot of competition, and the final price if a trade does go down will be sky-high.
Likelihood he’s in green: Not good, but not impossible.
It’s funny. Rondo probably never felt his situation in Boston was more secure than when Love visited Boston to start the month. But if the Celtics can’t land Love and they stand pat and simply draft from their No. 6 position, the Rondo trade rumors will fly. Rondo wants to be part of a quick turnaround and showing Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon the NBA ropes is probably not his idea of a good time. It would be highly unlikely for Rondo to re-sign in Boston if the Celtics take the “slow rebuild” approach.
Likelihood he’s in green: Good.
LeBron James surely had to have noticed that Dwyane Wade was moving around like Eric Montross in the open floor during the NBA Finals, and one could easily see LeBron stabbing Wade in the back to join up with his other, but more healthy “Class of 2003” buddy. Or maybe Wade is crazy self-aware and re-signs in Miami for chump change while ’Melo gets paid by Pat Riley. The other “championship situations” that ’Melo will be presented with over the next few weeks will likely be better than what the Celtics can pitch even if they somehow nab Love. You think Anthony would rather live in Miami and hang with LeBron or freeze in the Boston winter with Love? Speaking of the Celtics’ “tradition” as a selling point is nice and all, but do all those championship banners in the rafters really carry any weight with a 30-year-old guy that grew up in New York and Baltimore?
Likelihood he’s in green: Not good.
No, he’s not in the elite basketball class of a Love, Rondo or Carmelo; but it’s more likely that your girlfriend knows who “Hump” is, over say, fellow free agent Kyle Lowry. Plus, while Boston fans were dreaming of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker during the winter, Humphries was actually playing well for Brad Stevens, averaging 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. One could easily see Humphries involved in some sort of sign-and-trade as the market for the 29-year-old free agent will likely be healthy.
Likelihood he’s in green: Not good.
Follow Metro Boston Sports Editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS