Boston’s three-way trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets became official on Thursday, and on paper it was a steal for the Celtics. Danny Ainge acquired Marcus Thornton, Tyler Zeller, and a protected first round pick from Cleveland all for the low cost of a top-55 protected second round pick from Boston. In essence, Ainge acquired these assets for nothing.
The Celtics brought aboard these semi-valuable pieces (Zeller, first round pick) to add to their long list of future trade chips. When compiling these assets, the ultimate hope for Ainge has been acquiring a major upgrade to the Celtics roster, such as Kevin Love. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported this week that the Celtics were still pursuing “creative ways” to try to meet Minnesota’s high asking price for the power forward. Today’s pickups from Cleveland should help Boston in that respect.
Will Love even be available for the Celtics to pursue later this summer though? It’s fair to wonder when you consider the facts surrounding the transactions.
1. The Cavs made the 3-team deal (dumping Jarrett Jack and Tyler Zeller) so they could clear enough space under the salary cap in order to offer Lebron James a maximum salary contract.
2. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cavs are reportedly interested in acquiring Kevin Love if they are able to land James in free agency.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love contingent on the signing of LeBron James, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Timberwolves will demand Andrew Wiggins, the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick from last month’s NBA draft, be a part of any proposed deal, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Needless to say, Wiggins is a better piece than anything Boston could hope to offer Minnesota in a trade proposal. It remains to be seen whether the Cavs would be willing to offer up the top pick for Love, but that’s a deal that Minnesota should and probably will take if it’s put on the table.
So if you connect the dots here, is it possible the Celtics, by helping clearing out salary cap space for Cleveland in the trade, ruined their chances of landing Love? It’s too early to say right now. James has not made a decision yet, and if he’s not going to Cleveland, Love certainly isn’t either.
If James does sign, though, that might take Love off the table for Boston, partially because of their trade with Cleveland.
Is the Celtics front office nervous they served as a facilitator in this regard? Probably not. If the Celtics didn’t make the three-team deal (which netted them a great return) Cleveland would have found another team willing to take on some salary. It might have been more expensive for them to do so, but they would have found a way. When you have a chance at the best player in the world, you do whatever it takes to create that possibility.
It also remains unclear whether Boston has the means to acquire Love at this point, even with their impressive list of assets.
So Celtics fans shouldn’t fret too much about this one. With this trade, the team may have technically helped to create a pairing of Love and James. Realistically though, if it is going to happen, it would happen with or without Boston’s help. The C’s just took the opportunity to benefit off the possibility.