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Report: Celtics Still Pursuing Kevin Love “Creatively”

Well, we can probably just chalk our Kevin Love hopes up to nothing, and move on with our summers, right? After all, Summer League is in full swing, Marcus Smart looks good, Smart and Avery Bradley are going to be playing tough backcourt defense for a team destined for the lottery, and we can all pretty much expect a long rebuild. That’s fine.

This is Woj’s version of a Mutombo finger wag.

Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe followed up.

That makes some sense, given what we know about Minnesota. The Wolves don’t want to rebuild. They would prefer to put a playoff team together based on the pieces they acquire from a deal for Love, which isn’t a great move for the future but would line up with Flip appointing himself head coach. No head coach would like to tank.

I have no idea what Minnesota wants. This doesn’t feel like a situation in which both teams are bumping heads for leverage. It feels like the Celtics are willing to give Minnesota what it wants (within reason), and the Wolves aren’t sure they want to take Boston’s collection of assets.

Other teams can still offer a better deal than Boston. But if Woj is to be believed (and he almost always is), the Celtics haven’t ruled themselves out of the game yet.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    I’m not getting my hopes up again. At least until a ‘deal close!’ report.

  • CP37

    Glad to know we’re still in this, especially with GSW refusing to give up Klay. We’ve still got Sully, the BKN picks and expiring/non-guaranteed deals. I wonder if we could get the Pelicans to dance with us and help us get Love: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=m8ucama (one of the BKN picks + our 2015 pick goes to Minny and the Clippers 2015 goes to NO)

    • hax

      I’d do that trade.
      But stop being stubborn, Wolves! Take this and go away.

      Green(established starting SF)
      Bogans(Free money!!!)
      Sullinger(Young prospect, Love replacement)
      3 2015 1st round picks(Celtics, Clippers, 76’ers)

      • CP37

        I think those 76ers picks turn into 2 second rounders if they fail to make the playoffs, but other than that I don’t mind this deal at all (as long as we’ve got Deng or somehow Parsons ready to step in and fill the void Green leaves).

        • hax

          Yeah they’ll probably be two 2nd rounders, but not our problem.

      • Mark

        No way am I giving up our pick in 2015. That is a draft deep on big men, specifically the center position. Which, by the way, sucks on this team.

        • hax

          With Rondo-Love, we’d probably be picking in the 20’s.
          And Danny would definitely trade for a center soon after to fill our need there.

          • Ping

            Exactly why this deal wouldn’t work. Two picks outside the lottery and two 2nds (that Sixers pick as a snowball’s chance in hell of being a 1st) isn’t enough.

  • Ping

    I don’t really see what has changed. For all the banter about Golden State and their waffling over Klay Thompson, no deal was every truly close. All reports were rumors. Sure, GS was pursing Love and probably still is, but Boston still has always been a sensible trade partner.

    Seems like everyone in Boston just assumed Love was going to be here based on his visit. That said, doesn’t mean it still can’t happen. I would give Minny whatever they want to get Love.

  • Joe

    I really do not want Kevin love. Yes he is a great rebounder and can shoot the ball lights out… But he is not a premier defender. He was always put up great rebounding numbers, but
    On a better team those points will go down. Points are always inflated when you are on a bad team. He does not make the celtics a champion contender in any way. He also can’t shoulder the responsibility of being the go-to guy. We have seen this in Minnesota. He had a decent supporting cast and could barely go .500.

    • Rich Jensen

      How many of those complaints could be made of Ray Allen in 2007?

      And Love is much younger, and arguably more coachable on the defensive end of things where, I’m inclined to peg poor defense on poor coaching.

      Love probably can’t be an elite defender, but he certainly can be an above average one.

      • Joe

        You make a good point but if you really watch Ray Allen, he wasn’t THAT BAD of a defender. He does a lot of little things. Also it’s different when you can mask it with rondo and pierce also on the perimeter and then a defensive minded Perkins and the defensive player of the year, Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett made up for A LOT of defensive lapses. They still had a tough time, going to two game 7s. And then we had James Posey coming off the bench as well as PJ Brown. Two above average defenders.

        It’s a shame we couldn’t get Asik.

        Also, mchale, Dwayne Casey, and flip are all good coaches…

        • CP37

          I know he comes with some HEAVY baggage but Larry Sanders might still be in play.

          • Joe

            I kind of like that risk too. The season before last he was phenomenal. He would fair better with Rondo, as long as we don’t trade him.

          • Rich Jensen

            “He does not make the celtics a champion contender in any way. He also
            can’t shoulder the responsibility of being the go-to guy. We have seen
            this in Minnesota. He had a decent supporting cast and could barely go

            Larry Sanders addresses none of those points. Which means that if the Celtics acquire Sanders, they’re still short a major missing link.

            My opinion— with Love and a MLE-priced/defense minded big, the C’s are championship contenders. With Sanders, you’re adding a ~$11M/year piece without coming close to adding the offense you need.

          • Joe

            That’s true. I don’t think that the second part of your opinion exists though… A MLE defensive minding big? Who do you have in mind? I would like to get maybe an Elton brand or somebody but we need some height. We have plenty of skilled but undersized big men.

            I’m honestly just not the biggest Kevin Love fan either which adds to my bias.

          • Rich Jensen

            Someone in that range. Could be a quality player on a rookie contract (in my fantasy realm, the 76ers trade a decent Noel to the Celtics for picks because Sam Hinkie seems to be all about selling vaporware), or a veteran big of a healthy Ekpe Udoh type.

            What I’m looking for is a guy who wouldn’t be a defensive liability, so that Love/(Sullinger/Olynyk) can play their natural position.

          • Joe

            Agreed. Udoh is an interesting thought. I definitely want to see those guys playing the 4 alongside a good defensive center. That’s key. It’s going to be an interesting off season!

          • hax


        • Ping

          Oh man, not to pile on, but your post here just proved my point about Love’s D.

          • Joe

            I appreciate all of the feedback and disagreement. It’s not often I get to talk with other celtics fans who know something.

          • Ping

            Totally agree. I have far too few places to debate. Seems like every other fan I know personally doesn’t care about the NBA :/

    • Ping

      I totally disagree. Love’s stats firmly entrench him as a great player.

      Love is not a great defender, inside or out. He has dealt with injuries as well. Both knocks against him, but the good Kevin Love brings outweighs his deficiencies. Let’s start with his “inflated” point totals. Two of the last three seasons (including one in which he played just 18 games), Love has averaged 26 ppg. More accurately, Love scored 35.4 pp100, which ranked 6th. He was behind only LeBron, Durant, Melo, Boogie, and Westbrook. Overall, Love has topped a 24 PER in 3 of the last 4 (again, including his lost 2012-13). His career PER of 23.2 ranks 8th among active players. That puts him ahead of Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Melo, and more.

      Just to add on the pile, Love’s career 20.9 total REB% ranks first among active players and second all-time (behind Rodman, all stats according to bballref).

      As for his “decent” supporting cast, here’s a few teammates since he entered the league in 2008: Al Jefferson (two seasons), Rashad McCants, Corey Brewer, Ramon Sessions, Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Martell Webster, JJ Barea, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Martin, Rubio, and Pekovic.

      How about all that young talent that Minny has drafted the last 6 years? Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, Wayne Ellington (2009), Wesley Johnson (2010), Derrick Williams (2011), Alexy Schved (2012), Shabazz Muhammad (2013), Zach LaVine (2014 TBD). Nevermind Minny drafted Ty Lawson and Trey Burke then subsequently traded them, and failed to draft Steph Curry in 2009. Not exactly the future of the NBA.

      Long story short, Love is a pretty damn great player who can’t do it alone. There’s all this whining about Love not being a “franchise player” the Celtics need. If a top 5 NBA player isn’t “franchise” then who the hell is? LeBron and Durant are exceptions, top 20 all-timers, not the rule for every team. With the right team, I trust Love could lead a contender, but no one can do it alone.

      *end rant*

      • Joe

        The spurs don’t have any guys scoring within the top 20… So I don’t think ppg really matters all that much. Calling Kevin love a great player doesn’t seem accurate to me. He can definitely play, but a great player does a lot more. Look what somebody like allen iverson was able to do with a much weaker supporting cast. Not only did he get to the finals, but he even managed to win a game. Love is a great rebounder, but not a great player. Look at lebrons Cleveland teams. They did not have a supporting cast that was better then the wolves, and they went to the finals and made the playoffs every year.

        Also, defense is more important then offense. Wilt averaged 50 pts one season, and russell still beat him.

        All of these “hollinger” stats don’t measure the most important thing. Heart. I do believe Kevin love has heart. You don’t average 14-15 reb a game without hard work as well, but to be considered great, that’s an entirely different level. He is not in a Jordan, russell, magic, bird, oscar type of category. Even if you look at just power forwards, he is nowhere near what kg and Duncan are. I wouldn’t even say he’s better than Elton brand in the 05-06 season. Stats aren’t everything.

        • StaticFunctions

          The Spurs have depth everywhere and the best coach in the NBA, not to mention systems that maximize each player’s talents on offense. Oh, and Parker, Ginobli, and Duncan are all HOF players who are always kept fresh.

          Allen Iverson and Lebron made the Finals through the East, while Love’s Wolves have been stuck in the West. They would’ve made the playoffs each of the last two seasons if they were in the East. Not to mention, Iverson had the Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year on that Sixers team that went to the Finals.

          The key to building a great team is to surround a franchise player with a cast that supports him well. Lebron’s Cavs always had good defenders and some spot up shooters, and that allows him to operate best. Last year, Love was working with a PG who can’t shoot, a center who can’t protect the rim, small forwards who are not starter-quality, and his best compliment was probably an older Kevin Martin.

          As far as who I’d take in their prime: of course I’d take KG or Duncan, but that’s more so because those two are somewhere in the top 25 players of all time. The players better than Love are a small handful, because after Durant, Lebron, CP3, and Griffin, you could make an argument that Love fits right behind them (possibly Griffin’s equal, although Griffin had more impressive moments this past season). A pairing of Rondo and Love would work magic.

          • Ping

            Yes. All this and more.

            An argument on Love’s place all-time can be had, but even that’s premature. He’s had just 6 years in the NBA, and frankly I don’t care where he lands in the history books right now.

            I want Love because few guys in the league would make Boston better. LeBron, Durant, Paul, Melo, Westbrook, Curry, The Brow, Griffin, Dirk, Harden – these guys are the NBA’s best, and I rate Love better than all but 3 or 4 of them. I’ll gladly take him in the East.

        • Ping

          I’ll take your points one by one because there’s a lot here to debate. Well, not debate so much as disprove.

          So even though Love fills up the stat sheet, both with standard and advanced metrics, it doesn’t matter? He scores. He rebounds. He’s a creative passer. His outlets are a thing of basketball perfection. He shoots like a guard, unlike anyone in history next to Dirk. Not great?

          Comparing Love to Iverson’s Sixers or LeBron’s Cavs is pointless. The NBA is far different now, let alone the condition of the Eastern Conference over the last ten years.

          I agree with you on defense, it wins titles. But how does Kevin Love’s individual defense negate that? Was Paul Pierce Pippen on D before KG showed up? Is Dirk a great defender? He beat LeBron and Miami though, right? Has Bosh ever been a great defender, even though Miami won back to back titles on their defense? I admit Love isn’t a great on ball defender, but you build TEAM defense. That’s what wins. Duncan in SA. Chandler in Dallas. KG here in Boston. THOSE guys are defenders that drive team defense.

          As an aside, I love Russell but let’s not start that argument while ignoring Havlicek, Cousy, Jones, Heinsohn etc or Wilt’s two titles.

          “Hollinger” stats? Not going to start a sabermetric argument, I promise. You do mention how important heart is as opposed to stats…and then you admit Love has heart. So what’s the problem with a driven player that meets numerous metrics and then some?

          To sum, you continue with the same rhetoric argument that I mentioned before. Kevin Love isn’t “great” because he’s not Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell or Duncan. So that’s the standard huh? We shouldn’t pursue Love because he isn’t one of the five best players to ever pick up a basketball? He’s played just six seasons with a well-known dysfunctional franchise, but it’s okay to write him off as not being Duncan or Garnett (also top 15 players ever)?

          This ridiculous standard that people are projecting on Love needs to end. He’s a phenomenal player. Great. Awesome. Any adjective you want to use to describe a truly inspirational talent that bends defenses like few others in the game, happens to be just 25 years old, and is actually available for acquisition.

          But hey, no, let’s wait for the next LeBron. In the meantime we can pick and choose random career-best seasons from retired players to criticize Love with.

          • Ping

            I swear, this argument is soon going to devolve into “which NFL QBs are ELITE.”

          • Joe

            Cam newton! Haha no you guys all make good points. Definitely doing a good job convincing me. My biggest issue with this whole thing is we need a tough defensive minded center next to him.

          • hax

            +1 for being reasonable & open to friendly debate.

          • Ping

            Nothing I say here is meant to be personal, but sorry if I come off strong. I’m definitely in the pro-Love category and don’t agree with all the posturing (mainly by Boston’s talking heads) around Love. Think it’s mostly as insurance in the event Boston doesn’t land him. If they do, I guarantee Felger, Tanguay, and the likes will be ecstatic.

          • hax

            Wasn’t meant negatively :)
            I was just complimenting him(and you guys)

            Would have been easy for us to say ‘u stoopid!!! Love is AWESOME’ and him yelling back because…there’s 10 guys yelling at him for his opinion, he has to, by law of the internet.

            But nope. Nice friendly debate both ways.

            More proof Celtics have the best fans.

          • dasein

            True. But that’s not a reason not to grab the top 10 guy when you can. That’s like saying I don’t want the Massarati because I don’t have a garage yet.

            Contender building 101:

            1. Obtain star(s) by whatever means you can
            2. Fill out roster with complimentary role players
            3. Profit!

          • check12check

            the only problem with this is that Rondo only has a little time left. So we would need to either figure it out NOW or get another star

          • dasein

            Sure, but the point is that obtaining the star is the hardest part. Rondo should still have a few elite years left, which is enough time to figure the rest out. And it’s much easier to get that other star when you already have 2.

          • Ping

            Entirely true, but check is also right. Rondo hasn’t exactly been all-in on extension talks. He assuredly wants to know what he can get as a FA. In that sense, Boston needs to move soon to acquire another star. Maybe if you get Love, the prospect of him and Rondo convinces both to re-sign and go on a campaign to get more pieces.

          • dasein

            I wouldn’t read anything into that. The new CBA makes it so that no rational person in Rondo’s position would do an extension. The rules simply limit too much what he could get by extending now. Become a free agent and you are eligible for more years and money.

            From memory, the only extensions we’ve seen happen under the new CBA have been guys coming off their rookie contracts, e.g. Kyrie.

          • dasein

            Hear hear!

            Well written Ping.

            I’ll add that what a lot of the Love criticisms ignore is that his team currently plays in an historically loaded Western conference. Put the 2013/14 Wolves in the east and they are potentially a conference finalist, largely on the coat-tails of Love btw.

            Guess who does play in the east?

            Is a stretch to believe that Love with Rondo and friends might actually be better than the 2013/14 wolves?

            Conference finals in year 2 of the rebuild sounds good to me.

          • check12check

            I totally agree with pretty much everything you said here. My only reason for not wanting a Love trade is that he is not a player that could single handedly turn the C’s into contenders. Love + our current team = low playoff seed. maybe a 5 or 6 because the east sucks. Yes, the argument can totally be made that our team would look legit with Love and Rondo if we can assemble the pieces around them (pretty much getting a center), but we can’t do that right now; we have way too much restrictions due to our salary situation. I think it’s best for us to endure another year, get what we can for Rondo, and start a rebuild. Otherwise, I see us becoming the Rockets of the east. I want to see the Celtics become more of a San Antonio type organization (we seem to have a coach that really become one of the greats now). That takes consistency, not wheeling and dealing every single year.

          • Ping

            I sort of understand that sentiment, but ultimately I don’t agree. If Boston were to ever be so bad and so lucky as to replicate OKC, I’d love it too. But that’s an incredibly hard road to hoe. Kevin love is just 25. 25! What are the odds that any player you draft in a rebuild are going to be as good as Love, let alone controllable for the entirety of his prime? Love has already had his rookie season, his growing pains. He’s become a top 5 (debatable, I know) player.

            Love and Rondo alone don’t win you a title, you’re right. But Love is one hell of a piece to start toward it. If he can be had and signed long term, I do anything to get him. The “how many picks is too many” is another argument, but I’m willing to send plenty.

            Again, I understand the Spurs sentiment. They’re the best organization is sports. But let’s not forget they drafted one of the five best players ever in Duncan and landed two hall of fame, international stars as well. That takes scouting and luck, which the Celtics have been short on.

          • Ping

            Passing on Love because he makes you the Rockets and not the Thunder kind of falls into the same “franchise player” debate, really. There are literally only two players in the entire league that make you immediate contenders: LeBron and Durant. Neither is coming to Boston. No chance. Just because Love isn’t one of those two doesn’t mean you don’t pursue him. You put him with Rondo, and attract those supplemental pieces that build a contender (the Iguodalas, Wests, and Dengs of the world).

            Still, you’re right about the draft. Every contender needs to have some sort of draft luck to attain cheap talent (Parsons, Jordan, Stephenson, etc.).

  • hax