Report: Celtics to sell Kevin Love on teaming with Robin Lopez and Paul Pierce
Now that Kevin Love is opting out of his contract, the free agency courting process begins. The Cavs are still the frontrunner to re-sign him — the ability to play with LeBron James and compete for a title every year is probably too much to pass up. But plenty of other teams will make their pitches, not least of all the Celtics, who have been linked to Love for some time. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski has some interesting new details on the pitch the Celtics are planning to make to Love, which involves the potential return of Paul Pierce to Boston.
Sources: If Kevin Love goes forward with visits in July, expect Boston to sell him on pursuing group of Love, Robin Lopez and...Paul Pierce.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2015
Sources: Clips offering bench guys to gain trade exception to pay Pierce, but If Celts could get Love - Pierce is in play for Boston return.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2015
Opt-out sets up Love to sign extension w/ Cavs, but teams want crack at pitching him. Another suitor promising to be aggressive: Phoenix.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2015
There’s a lot going on here. Putting aside the idea of Pierce returning to Boston, which is its own discussion, it’s still difficult to see how this scenario the Celtics are pitching is more appealing than the situation Love already has in Cleveland. Robin Lopez, if he were to sign in Boston, is pretty much the ideal big man to pair with Love, a rim-protecting rebounding machine who doesn’t need the ball and can cover up a lot of Love’s defensive deficiencies. But you know who else is an ideal rim protector and offensive cleanup man to pair with Love? Timofey Mozgov.
Phoenix is more of a long-shot, but he’d be a good fit there, too. They took a step back last year after the loss of Channing Frye, and Love can give them a better version of that same skill set.
What Love does in free agency will come down to how much he values being the No. 1 option on a team versus playing on a contender. If winning is the most important objective, you don’t walk away from playing with the best player in the world, especially in a weak Eastern Conference where you’re more or less guaranteed to make the Eastern Conference Finals at a minimum every year — and probably the Finals. But the Cavs will never be Love’s team, and if he wants that, the Celtics would be a better option. The Celtics have plenty of assets and cap space to chase other players to put around him, as well as a nice young core with Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger. And if playing with Kelly Olynyk is a problem, Olynyk won’t be difficult to move. It’s not unthinkable that this happens.
Still, the Cavs should be considered the frontrunner to keep Love unless something crazy happens.