|What Kevin Love trade means for Celtics||08.07.14 at 11:29 am ET|
Mercifully, the Kevin Love drama has come to an end, and as expected in recent weeks he will not be wearing a Celtics uniform next season. Love will be donning wine and gold alongside fellow NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers will be really good for a really long time.
In exchange for the last two No. 1 overall picks — Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett — and a 2015 first-round pick, the Cavs acquired Love from Minnesota and received a commitment from the 25-year-old that he will sign a max contract next summer, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
There will be those who claim Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge facilitated the LeBron and Love pairing by dealing a trade exception for Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick last month. And there will be those who say Love used his Boston visit to help the Timberwolves drive up the bidding war for his services. And they will not be wrong.
But once LeBron returned to Cleveland, nobody was stopping this trade. So, let’s not go around criticizing Ainge for acquiring three more assets and not offering enough to get a Love deal done. Once LeBron made the Cavaliers a destination attractive enough for Love to sign longterm and Wiggins became available in return, no combination of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and No. 1 picks was going to convince Flip Saunders otherwise.
|Irish Coffee: If not Kevin Love, then who?||07.30.14 at 9:09 am ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and trade target Kevin Love arguably comprise the two top free agents on the NBA market next summer. While the possibility of Love coming to Boston has faded, the C’s front office continues to pursue a second star to pair with Rondo.
A look at the remaining talent in the 2015 free agent class may offer a clue about who Celtics president Danny Ainge & Co. consider a potential Garfunkel to Rondo’s Simon. The C’s have the salary cap space to target anyone on the list, and stars signed beyond the coming year are rarely traded during the season.
Let’s start by crossing off the list LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng — all of whom have player options for 2015-16 and never looked Boston’s way this summer. Now, let’s sort the cream of the crop into four tiers.
|Revisiting the Rajon Rondo conversation||07.25.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
It’s been a strange summer for Rajon Rondo.
Trade rumors have surrounded Rondo for years, but for maybe the first time in his career the Celtics captain has said only the right things. Rondo claims to not only be happy in Boston but also to have complete trust in general manager Danny Ainge to put the Celtics back in contention.
In a day and age when stars seemingly text each other to join the next super team, shouldn’t we embrace a star who wants to remain in Boston?
It would be nice if we could. Unfortunately, the Celtics find themselves in no position to do so. Between today and the 2015 NBA trade deadline, Rondo must go, and here’s why.
It appears we can wave farewell to any hopes of Kevin Love landing in Boston. According to numerous reports, the Cavaliers are not only the frontrunners for Love, but a deal that would send him to Cleveland is all but done. If that isn’t convincing enough for you, our own Ben Rohrbach has thrown in the towel himself, declaring Love will never be traded to the Celtics.
It comes down to the fact that no star player is going to come to Boston. No star wants to sign in Boston and there are none on the trading block to make come to Boston. Valiant effort, Danny, but you’re out of luck.
Ainge is stockpiling assets, and doing a phenomenal job of it. Most have assumed the idea is that these assets will be traded for talent (ideally to pair next to Rondo). They may have to come to the realization that the assets will be used to select and develop talent.
Which leaves them with Rondo, and, frankly, he just doesn’t fit with what they are left with.
Everyone has their own theory as to how to handle Rondo’s situation. There are two questions worth asking yourself to come to an answer. Does Rondo fit with the current core? Are you prepared to let Rondo walk?
The answer to both questions is no.
Rondo is not the ideal player to have on the Celtics during an effort to develop guys like Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and James Young. That doesn’t mean he has to leave for nothing, though. Ainge might as well collect a return on Rondo, a return that likely would add to the young players and picks already in Boston’s possession. A return that would help build the team in the direction it’s currently trending toward — the future.
The ironic part? If Rondo is so confident that Ainge will do the right thing, then he is counting on Ainge shipping him out of town while he still can.
|Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics hoped for bigger moves||07.20.14 at 1:20 pm ET|
The best place for Celtics news these days seems to come from following the Red Sox. After running into Kris Humphries at the MLB All-Star Game, our own Rob Bradford bumped into C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck at Fenway Park.
Grousbeck, of course, provided the now infamous “fireworks” comment earlier this year, and he’s just as disappointed as most Celtics fans about the team’s failure to pair another star with Rajon Rondo so far this summer.
“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest,” he said. “Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on longterm trying to build the club. We think we’re a better team now — positioned for the future, some new young talent and even more draft picks — but it’s been a patient summer so far, and I’m not always the most patient guy.”
Without saying as much, Grousbeck vaguely referenced the Kevin Love sweepstakes. As rumors link Love’s future with the Cavaliers, the C’s owner preferred instead to focus on his biggest positive of this summer: Brad Stevens.
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||07.16.14 at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.
|The Rajon Rondo trade rumor mill begins in earnest||07.14.14 at 10:50 am ET|
Having missed out on Chris Bosh in free agency, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey‘s search for a third star to pair with Dwight Howard and James Harden continues with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Celtics captain is reportedly a “longtime Houston target” on the trade market.
While the Rockets have created a boatload of salary cap wiggle room, trading both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in addition to letting Chandler Parsons walk, Morey has few assets remaining to deal for either Rondo or Love, let alone both.
Houston reportedly dealt its 2015 first-round selection in the Lin deal and acquired a protected No. 1 pick from the Pelicans, but because teams cannot complete trades that could leave them without a top pick in consecutive seasons, the Rockets could not offer the Celtics or Timberwolves a first-rounder until 2017.
Likewise, following Parsons’ departure, the Rockets have few players to offer not named Howard or Harden. The newly acquired Trevor Ariza‘s four-year, $32 million deal by way of a three-team trade cannot be dealt for another two months.
While the Celtics and Rockets could both get themselves under the cap to complete a deal, Houston’s offer would have to include some combination of Terrence Jones (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.1 apg, 57.7 TS%, 19.1 PER), Patrick Beverly (10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.5 TS%, 12.4 PER) and unsigned first-round pick Clint Cappela. None of those names exactly scream equal value for either Rondo or Love.
Still, Rondo will be on the trading block should the Celtics not acquire Love themselves, and Morey is a creative GM capable of involving other teams in a package enticing enough to land the C’s point guard. This isn’t the first Rondo trade rumor you’ve seen, and it won’t be the last, but it may really be the beginning of the end of his Boston tenure.
|What LeBron James’ decision means to the Celtics||07.11.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
Over the next 24 hours, you’ll see thousands of stories about what LeBron’s decision means to Cleveland (everything), Miami (oh, man) and the NBA in general (those ripple effects won’t reach shore for quite some time), but what exactly does it mean for the Celtics?
LeBron’s arrival in Cleveland immediately makes the Cavs a contender. While James admitted the team’s rookie head coach and youthful roster makes a title this season far from easy, a supporting cast of Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and Anderson Varejao isn’t a bad start.
Given the youth surrounding the game’s best player — only 29 years old himself — Danny Ainge‘s job just became that much more difficult for the foreseeable future. Conservatively, the Cavaliers could be contenders through 2020.
Of course, LeBron will also lure more talent to Cleveland. Chief among his recruits could be Kevin Love, who the Celtics have coveted for the past several months. The Cavaliers could offer Wiggins, Waiters, Varejao’s expiring contract and a future first-round pick for Love, potentially beating any offer Ainge could create. (Ironically, the Cavs still own a protected No. 1 pick from the Heat as a result of LeBron’s sign-and-trade in 2010.)
If the C’s lose out on Love to Cleveland, Ainge would only have himself to blame, since his recent three-team deal created the cap space necessary for the Cavs to sign James. Still, it’s hard to hold Ainge entirely responsible for LeBron landing in Cleveland, since Dan Gilbert would have created space come hell or high water.
The Celtics also acquired a first-round pick from the Cavaliers in the trade for Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller, so LeBron’s decision just made that pick a whole lot less attractive. However, the Celtics own Miami’s second-round pick in 2016, and that could be somewhere in the 30s should Chris Bosh sign in Houston as expected.
Wherever James ultimately landed — Miami or Cleveland — the Eastern Conference was always going to go through LeBron for the next several years, so in that regard little else has changed for Ainge. In fact, the currently constructed Cavaliers may not be the immediate force that the Heat have been for the past four years. Regardless, Ainge’s focus remains on landing Love, and LeBron’s return to Cleveland just made that more difficult.