Five reasons the Celtics might pass on Kevin Love
BOSTON – As Kevin Love continues to struggle and the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to play their best basketball seemingly without him, the bon fire of critics who want him out of Cleveland will only continue to heat up.
He will have a number of potential suitors, but the Boston Celtics are well established as being among the teams with the greatest amount of interest.
But should they go all-in for him?
Love’s body of work in the NBA leaves no doubt about his ability to play.
That said, you can’t look past the fact that he has been at his best on bad teams in Minnesota while struggling to integrate his game with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who are both top-5 players in the NBA.
As much as adding a player of Love’s caliber would upgrade the Celtics’ roster, by no means is it a given that bringing him into the fold would bring the Celtics all that much closer to being an elite team in the Eastern Conference and reclaiming a spot among the game’s title contenders.
Here are five factors that might make the Celtics reluctant to swing a deal for the three-time All-Star.
5. Confidence issues
Watching Love play now is just sad on so many levels. He really is one of the top power forwards in the game but doesn’t play with the kind of confidence to back up the talent. Offensively he passes up too many good looks at the basket and when he does shoot he looks tentative. It’s to the point where you can see his confidence fading and to a larger extent, his teammates’ confidence in him. The lip service coming out of Cleveland has been that they still have great confidence in Love as a major contributor. But when you look at his minutes and impact, it tells a much different story.
4. Giving up a King’s ransom for a prince
The Timberwolves tried to build around Love and that led to one repeated trip to the NBA lottery after another. Of course it wasn’t all Love’s fault. But as the franchise player, his job was in part to elevate the play of those around him and that just never happened. Aware of this, Cleveland will still ask for a significant number of Boston’s assets if they want Love. For Boston, the question isn’t whether they have enough but rather, how much are they willing to give up to land him. Because we’ve already seen what it looks like for a team to build around him. And that look … it ain’t pretty!
3. Can’t work well with elite, superstar players
If the Celtics have their way, Love will be joined by at least one more All-Ltar in the near future besides Isaiah Thomas. In other words, he’ll find himself in another potential Big Three lineup. While there should be optimism that a second go-round with that kind of grouping would work better for him, you have to wonder if the same issues (disappearing some nights, not blending in immediately, etc.) will once again become problematic and keep the Green Team from achieving its goal of being an elite, title-contending club.
2. Durability questions
In his first playoff appearance in 2015, a shoulder injury courtesy of Kelly Olynyk and the Boston Celtics ended his postseason run after three-plus games. During Cleveland’s current postseason jaunt, he missed one game with a concussion (the first game Cleveland won in the Finals this year). At this point in his career, the narrative in defining Love as a player has to be about what he does in the postseason. And having had injuries that cost him court time in each of his postseasons in the NBA, raises questions about how reliable can he really be at a time of the year when you need all hands on deck if you are trying to have a special, last-team-standing kind of season.
1. A step behind the game’s evolution
We have seen the NBA evolve from a guard-oriented game to a big man’s game, to a skill/finesse league to one now that’s playing with smaller, athletic, more skilled players at just about every position. Kevin Love is a power forward with 3-point shooting skills. He’s not strong enough to be a full-time center in this NBA, and while he’s no slouch athletically, he can’t hold his own defensively against power forwards of this generation who truth be told, are super-sized small forwards who are too quick for him to defend and in many instances, strong enough to hold their own defensively against him. To invest heavily into a player who has a role that may be fading out in the near future, is indeed a risk that Boston has to give some thought to. Look at the team he plays for now. Timofy Mozgov is a really good center. But with the direction of the league now, he has been relegated to primarily waving a towel on the bench. Kevin Love isn’t quite there yet. But he’s probably closer to being that guy than anyone wants to acknowledge right now.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN