1.Out of all the potential suitors, do you feel confident the Celtics can put together the best trade package for Kevin Love?
Michael Pina: We’ll know much more after the lottery, but where things stand today, I emphatically do. If Minnesota trades Kevin Love they’ll need to demolish the roster and start all over. There’s no better way to do that than with draft picks, and–stop me if you’ve heard this before–Boston has more than a few.
Brian Robb: Nine draft picks over the next five years, along with plenty of unguaranteed deals and a few solid young prospects mean that’s a yes. No one in the league can match Ainge’s haul of picks. If the Celtics truly want Love, I don’t they can be outbid (even though they might have to overpay).
Tom Westerholm: I wrote this earlier today too, but I feel mostly confident about it. I will say that I think Phoenix putting together a package of picks plus Eric Bledsoe would be a pretty tough challenger, if only because the best player Boston can offer to go with its pick package is Jared Sullinger (aka poor man’s Kevin Love). That being said, Boston’s top 2014 pick has considerably more value than Bledsoe.
2. Does Danny Ainge have enough trade assets to deal for Love AND add enough supporting pieces around Rondo/Love to make Celtics a contender next year?
Pina: It’s difficult to answer this question without first knowing what Ainge gave to Minnesota, but generally speaking the answer is probably not. Will Boston be fun, exciting, and competitive? Yes. They’ll make the playoffs and maybe even win a round, but contending title contention would still be a couple years away with Love and Rondo as the two best players.
Robb: I’m with Mike here. You immediately become a playoff team next year, maybe even a top-4 team in the East but nothing more than that. The youngsters left over still have to develop and there will undoubtedly be more holes than can be filled during this summer.
Westerholm: That depends what kind of contender. Championship contender? Nah. Presumably the endgame here would be to get Love with the pick, wing help with the No. 17 (assuming they can keep it) and try to find some rim protection (Asik?). That certainly makes the Celtics a playoff contender, but not a championship contender while LeBron still exists.
Note: That doesn’t mean it would be a bad idea. Rondo and Love would make a nice nucleus, and top free agents notice two-star duos. Assuming they can find the room to make it happen, they could be a solid destination for future free agents. Championship teams (usually) aren’t built in one offseason.
3. Give me your best realistic Love-Celtics trade proposal.
Pina: Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Boston’s highest 2014 first-round pick and 2015 first-round pick. That sounds like a lot, but could still be light.
Robb: Sully, Bass, Bogans, other cap filler, 2014 lottery pick, unprotected Nets 2016 first round pick. Would be tough for any team to match that.
Westerholm: I’m going the easy route. Jeff Green/Brandon Bass/Boston’s (top) 2014 pick/the Clippers 2015 unprotected in exchange for Love.
Boston gets: Kevin Love, obvs.
Minnesota gets: A top prospect, an unprotected first rounder in 2015 (it’s always helpful to have multiple first round picks in one draft), Jeff Green (who really can produce if you surround him with the right pieces) and a solid power forward off the bench who can run pick-and-pops with Ricky Rubio.
Is Minnesota getting ripped off? Of course. Any trade for Love that doesn’t involve a top 15-20 player is a rip off for Kevin Love. But what Minnesota can get in return takes a massive hit if Love makes it known he doesn’t want to return to the Wolves, and Boston’s offer is about as good as the Wolves can get.