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Touching All the Bases

Five Thoughts on Kevin Love, Boston Tourist and Potential Future Celtics Cornerstone

1.I suppose if we see him doing the Ferris Bueller swing-battah thing at a Cubs game next weekend, we'll know for sure that Kevin Love is officially on an NBA "House Hunters" national tour.

But until that happens, or until he shows up in Oakland to watch the outstanding A's in their backed-up septic tank of a ballpark, I'm convinced his weekend in New England wasn't a casual visit to figure if he might like to play here.

No, I'm convinced that Love, a basketball aficionado and lifelong Larry Joe Bird admirer, was pretty sure this was where he wanted to be long before knocking back his first Sam Adams at the Greatest Bar. This was just the trip for first-person, good-time confirmation of what he already knew.

Given that it happened to occur on the nicest day of the year, with the Fenway experience as good as it gets on that particular day, I imagine Love's presumably positive perception of the city was only enhanced, presuming the apparent 33,000 people who took pictures with him treated him kindly.

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2. Facetiousness and some element of wishful thinking aside, here's what I honestly think is happening with Love: He and his agent determined that Boston -- with the assets to give up, a pass-first point guard in Rajon Rondo, a bright young coach, smart management, clear-headed ownership, and unmatched history -- was the place for him to be.

Once that was decided, it became time to activate the savvy business aspect of the plan. So now they're in the process of putting the squeeze on the Timberwolves to get him here, with the threat -- implied or bluntly delivered -- that he'll walk away next summer if they don't trade him to the destination of his choice.

If I'm a Timberwolves fan -- I'm presuming that isn't an oxymoron -- I'm enraged that Love is sampling other destinations with a year left on his deal. But Flip Saunders can't afford to take an emotional approach. He needs to do what is best for the T-Wolves' future. I still think Golden State might offer the most enticing package of players.

But if Love says Boston is where he wants to be and he's not staying beyond a year elsewhere, there is something of an onus on Saunders to make it happen.

3. Spent some time poking through the Globe archives trying to find a "we expect him to be here next season" quote from Kevin McHale regarding Kevin Garnett in summer 2007 to match Saunders's similar recent sentiments about Love.

Had no luck, but I did stumble upon some amusing skepticism from various respected sources about the possibility of trading for Garnett seven years ago.

Had to chuckle at this quote from Bob Cousy, who told Dan Shaughnessy on draft night '07 that he was underwhelmed with the trade of No. 5 overall pick Jeff Green (yes, him) to Seattle for Ray Allen.

"I didn't want them to make any trades," mused the first great Celtic. "I don't have that kind of confidence in aging free agents, especially guys like Garnett or Allen who haven't won anything. Arnold [Red Auerbach to you] did that effectively when he brought in players like Willie Naulls, Carl Braun, Dave Bing, and Pete Maravich. They'd come here and play 12 minutes a game and grab a ring. But you've got to get lucky to have a Garnett come in and break his tail at 31 or 32 years old. I would rather have seen them continue with the youth movement and take the kid from China."

The kid from China was Yi Jianlian, who averaged 7.9 points per game (better than I expected to find, actually) in five NBA seasons. Others lamented that day as prospects the Celtics let get away: Joakim Noah (OK, he has the second-most Win Shares in that draft to Kevin Durant), Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright, Green, and Boston College flameout Sean Williams.

4. I believe Paul Pierce will retire as a member of the Celtics, and not on one of those faux-sentimental one-day contracts that equate to the gold watch nowadays.

He'll play for them again, and given that Love's agent is also his agent, it would not surprise me at all if he's your moderate-salaried sixth man who adds a welcome back-to-the-future element to next season's revamped roster.

Love, Rondo, Pierce, a few useful holdovers, a promising draft pick or two (I'm almost more curious about what Ainge does at No. 17 than No. 6), and some savvy Eddie House/James Posey-style bolstering of the bench by Danny Ainge? Sign me up.

5. It's a riot how Love's visit to Boston included an audience with Gronk. I mean, of course it did. He's become one of Boston's greatest ambassadors and tourist attractions, our goofy human Faneuil Hall or something.

Hey, and if we're being really creative with how Love might be utilized here, I can think of worse options than lining him up as the second tight end opposite Gronk. At the least, we know he has better hands than Jermichael Finley.