What is Kevin Love Worth to the Boston Celtics?

By Jon Shames
Jared Sullinger backs down Kevin Love
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors regarding a possible shipment of Kevin Love to the Boston Celtics have been swirling around the Twittersphere for days now. The dream of another star coming to the Celtics is within reach, people. After just one painful rebuilding season, the Cs may have found their ticket back to the contention train — well, that is assuming they are prepared to pay the hefty price tag for said ticket.

Statistically speaking, there are few players with more impressive figures than Love, who averaged 26.1 points, 4.4 assists, and 12.5 rebounds last season while knocking down 45.7 percent of his looks from the field and 37.6 from behind the three point line. This was Love’s fifth year averaging a double-double in six tries. He is a fringe-MVP candidate, and thanks to a diverse skill-set, he is widely regarded as one of the best offensive players in the NBA.

Despite the team’s front office bringing in solid talent last off-season by signing guys like Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer, the Minnesota Timberwolves failed, once again, to qualify for the postseason, missing a playoff birth by nine games in the competitive Western Conference. Love hasn’t yet reached the playoffs, and now wants out of Minnesota. Technically, he is under contract with the Wolves until at least the end of the 2014-2015 season, when he has a player option, but all sources indicate that he is prepared to force his way out of Minnesota in similar fashion as did Kevin Garnett in 2007.

There are plenty of suitors for Love; he is gaining interest from numerous contenders around the NBA, including the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Chicago Bulls. But, as Love isn’t a free agent, the Wolves would only ship him somewhere where the return would be optimal. The Bulls, Rockets, and — to a lesser extent — Warriors don’t have much to offer aside from their stars, who are regarded by most as untouchable.

Enter Boston Celtics. Enter nine draft picks over the next five seasons. Enter Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and Jeff Green. Enter expiring contracts. Enter the sixth pick in a draft overflowing with talent.

According to multiple sources, Love would be interested in re-signing with Boston, a necessity for any deal to go down. No team would surrender the assets they would for Love if it wasn’t sure he would sign a long-term extension. If Love is interested in staying with the Celtics long-term, what would Danny Ainge surrender for him?

The situation, if it comes into fruition, would hold eerie similarities to Garnett’s conveyance to Boston nearly seven years ago. The deal included the Celtics sending two first-round picks, cash considerations, a high-upside prospect in Gerald Green, a solid role player in Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and of course Al Jefferson. To acquire Love, the green guys would undoubtedly have to surrender young talent, multiple picks, and expiring deals. Their lottery pick for the 2014 draft would also be a must.

The Ray Allen, KG, and Paul Pierce experiment had a supposed three-year title window at the time of the trades. The Celtics gave up all they did for a 30-year old Garnett. Love is only 25 right now, two-and-a-half years younger than Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo. Love is younger than Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant. The championship window for him is worlds away from closing.

Since Love is much younger than Garnett was, it will probably take more to pry the sharp-shooting big man from Minneapolis. Aside from this year’s draft pick, Minnesota would most likely want at least one of the three picks sent to the Celtics from Brooklyn. The 2016 pick currently projects to be the most valuable as the Nets will likely have to start to restock their assets sooner than expected with KG and Pierce both looking to retire in the next two seasons.

So besides this year’s pick and the Nets’ 2016 pick, what else would it take?  Sullinger and/or Olynyk would have to be thrown in there, as well as either  Green and/or Brandon Bass. The Celtics can also toss in Keith Bogans, who has a team option next season worth over $5 mil.

Between the plethora of picks the Cs possess and the high-upside talent they have, they certainly don’t lack the assets needed to acquire Love. It’s just up to Danny Ainge to decide how much he is worth to Boston. He would be a great fit, no doubt. But what kind of price is reasonable?

All we can do is wait to find out.

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