Cleveland Cavaliers fans are ecstatic at the news that LeBron James is returning to his hometown team, but how should Celtics fans feel about the development?
Not good, at least if you're a fan of Kevin Love.
It may have been a longshot to begin with, but the Celtics' pursuit of Love took a major hit Friday when James chose Cleveland over Miami. In Cleveland, Love now has a natural landing spot, a chance to play with the best player on the planet, and a real shot at a title. The Celtics can't offer him that.
The Celtics also can't offer No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, who would seem like the obvious trade chip Cleveland could use to acquire Love. James didn't mention Wiggins in the letter he penned announcing his decision, and you have to wonder if that was intentional.
As for Love's interest, the power forward is at least "intrigued" by playing with James in Cleveland, sources tell ESPN, and Love would consider signing a long-term extension there. As genuine as I think Love's interest in Boston was when he made the trip here earlier this summer, it's hard to compete with that. The only way Love-to-Cleveland doesn't get done is if the teams can't make a deal work. Cleveland has started trade talks by offering guard Dion Waiters, forward Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick, according to ESPN, but you have to figure Wiggins is the guy who makes it happen.
So the first casualty of James to the Cavaliers is likely Love, something that would not have happened if James stayed in Miami. Danny Ainge helped make that happen, but it's hard to fault Ainge too much for giving up virtually nothing for a first-round pick, Tyler Zeller, and an expiring contract.
James's signing has impacts beyond Love, however, and that starts with Chris Bosh, who is likely heading to the Rockets now that James has fled Miami.
Until Houston has full commitment from Chris Bosh, Rockets won't be reaching out to Miami on sign-and-trade scenarios, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
To make room for Bosh under the cap, the Rockets need to dump some salary. One way they're doing that is by shipping Jeremy Lin to the Lakers.
Houston is finalizing a deal to send Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Another dilemma the Mavericks now have is whether or not to match the $45 million offer the Mavericks gave to forward Chandler Parsons. It's unclear whether or not Houston can fit both Parsons and Bosh under the cap. If Houston wants both players, they may be tempted to move others on the roster. Call me crazy, but I've always thought Rajon Rondo, a contract, and a pick for James Harden makes sense for both sides. Harden is due nearly $65 million over the next four seasons (the 4th is a team option), while Rondo's $13 million comes off the books after this season.
As far as the landscape of the Eastern Conference, not much changes. LeBron was never going to leave the East, and the team he was on figured to be the favorite. The Celtics need to build a contender, and they've got a long way to go. James's decision mercilessly allows that process to begin, as teams will begin to consummate deals now that the biggest domino has fallen. LeBron's signing is good news for Celtics fans. If offseason "fireworks" are to be had, we could start seeing them sooner rather than later.