Soon to be former Timberwolves star Kevin Love has been giving fans in Boston either an optimistic reason to dream, or the dirtiest of teases.
Only moments after reports surfaced that Love wants out of Minnesota and the Celtics could be a realistic landing spot, many of us began debating what it would take to get the 25-year-old in green. But, in less than two weeks time, media gossip evolved into actual sight-seeing.
It remains unclear if the Hub was just the first trip of many, but Love spent the weekend in Boston wining and dining with new friends and fans. Pictures have surfaced of the big man at bars, restaurants, and Fenway – even sharing a conversation with potential future teammate Rajon Rondo. Love enjoyed the latest of seven straight Red Sox wins alongside his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who also just so happens to represent Paul Pierce.
The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes had a full recap of the trip.
Naturally, it was great to welcome Love to our city, especially during the most beautiful weekend in months, but it begs the obvious question:
What does Kevin Love’s visit mean for a future in Boston?
Our Boston.com panel of Celtics insiders offered their thoughts.
Gary Dzen: Before this weekend, I felt there was a 50-50 chance Love would be a Celtic next season. Now? 100 percent. Book it. It's going to happen.
The Celtics clearly have the most to give to Minnesota in a trade if they want to pull out all the stops for Love. All those draft picks will get him here, if that's the direction Danny Ainge wants to go in. The question now isn't whether or not Love will come here, but rather whether or not the Celtics feel they can build around Love and Rondo with the remnants of that deal. If the answer is yes, Love will be pulling down 26 and 12 for your Boston Celtics come November.
This weekend couldn't have gone any better. Boston shone as a sports town and as a town that's pretty damn fun to live in, for those of us lucky enough to do so. How often do fans in other cities rally around a single athlete like this? Credit the folks at the Cask n' Flagon and the Red Sox -- who are Celtics fans too -- for making Love feel extra special. It's also nice of the Sox to win seven games in a row. I knew Dr. Charles was good at pulling strings, but this recent choreography has been impressive.
Forget the jinxes. Kevin Love is coming to Boston.
Jeremy Gottlieb: Wouldn't it amazing if Kevin Love looked back on his visit to Boston this past weekend and remembered it so fondly that he immediately rang up Minnesota Timberwolves GM Flip Saunders and said something like, "Yo Flip, Boston is it. Trade me there," while wearing a throwback Bird jersey?
From the looks of it, Love had himself quite a weekend. He couldn't have picked a better time to visit weather-wise and he hit a variety of excellent local spots, from Boylston Street to Fenway Park to Rumor, which I think is excellent but can't say for sure seeing as how I've never actually been there.
Anyway, the fact that Love wanted to come here and check out the city is very cool but at the end of the day, it's probably a bit of a stretch that the trip will have any effect on whether he winds up a Celtic. The Wolves continue to publicly claim that they are committed to keeping him in Minnesota. And even if they do decide to trade him, plenty of potential suitors will line up for their chance to acquire a 25-year old All-Star, double-double machine, with the Celts being just one of them. And then, even if the C's manage to outmaneuver the rest of the teams in that line and land Love, they'll still have to then convince him to sign an extension to ensure he's more than just a one-year rental. Danny Ainge may have said that he's not averse to making a deal for a player in the last year of his deal without the security of an extension agreement. But you can bet the house that's not his preference.
I suppose that at this point, any good vibes engendered by Love's Boston weekend would come into play. Should he be dealt here, having a blast during his visit and loving the city will more than likely help potential contract negotiations as opposed to if he was miserable the whole time. And that's about as close to a sure thing we can glean about both his visit to and possible future in Boston.
Adam Kaufman: There are a million ways to view this situation but here’s one way you can’t: as a coincidence. Kevin Love clearly visited Boston with a purpose, likely to get a feel for the city, its people, and some of its sights before deciding whether he’d be interested in playing and living here in the event the Celtics and Wolves are able to find suitable trade terms. Legally – in the scope of the NBA, that is – he couldn’t meet with the C’s brass, like president of basketball operations Danny Ainge or head coach Brad Stevens during his trip. That’d be clear tampering. Frankly, his “chance” meeting with Rajon Rondo at Fenway could be considered similarly, since there’s absolutely no way the point guard didn’t attempt to sway one of the league’s top scorers on what it would be like to play with a pass-first star like himself. Hopefully they weren’t just planning where else they’d prefer to relocate together when both are free agents next summer.
Optimistically, as my cousin texted me, the conversation went something like this:
Love: “Man, you can be my wingman any time.”
Rondo: “Bull. You can be mine.”
Cue the theme from Top Gun…
The whole situation bears watching. It’s great to feel like Love’s surprise arrival in Boston could amount to a lengthier one on, say, draft night but, for now, it could merely be the first of several fact-finding trips before making a decision on where he’d be willing to commit long-term. In other words, if you see pictures of Love walking around Times Square next weekend or near the old Mann’s Chinese Theater in two weeks (even though he's already familiar with Los Angeles), that’s not good.
Fortunately, Love came on his own volition, got great weather, made a few new friends, hopefully never reached for his wallet, and was most certainly shown the love wherever he went. He’s already an NBA historian of sorts, a long-time fan of Larry Bird, and now he’s caught a glimpse of what it could be like to be part of that same tradition. From David Ortiz to Randy Moss to Kevin Garnett, Love would hardly be the first Minnesota star to fall for our quaint, passionate city. At least we know Ortiz is ready to help him find a realtor. He's pretty good in negotiations, too.
Brian Robb: If you take the Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders at his word, Love's visit to Boston means nothing. Minnesota plans on keeping him for next season, Saunders told reporters yesterday. I'm sure Kevin McHale was making similar declarations in the summer of 2007 before he dealt Kevin Garnett to Boston as well.
Whether Love is available or not yet remains to be seen, but Love's stop in Boston can only be seen as a positive for the possibility of Boston landing him. Out of any potential trade destinations for the power forward, Boston has some of the best assets to offer the Wolves in any deal. The biggest question lately has been not if Boston can land Love if he's available, but whether Love would want to be here for the long-term if he was acquired.
A weekend visit to the area with his agent Jeff Schwartz signals Love is likely willing to explore the possibility of that kind of commitment. Thankfully for Celtics fans, he arrived in town on a beautiful weather weekend and got a taste of the town and a fanbase that is as devoted to its teams as much as any place in the country. Most athletes relish the opportunity to play in that kind of atmosphere on a winning team. My guess is Love is more intrigued than ever with that possibility after this weekend's visit.
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