Are you in Love with a high draft pick?
Kevin Love dominated the headlines this past weekend with reports indicating that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. That could force the Minnesota Timberwolves to consider trading him this offseason in order to prevent losing him without compensation.
The Celtics, with their stash of trade treasures, including nine first-round draft picks over the next five drafts and young talent, appear to have the sort of assets to make a hard run at any established superstar that becomes available. Yahoo! Sports suggested Sunday that the Celtics have emerged as a increasingly intriguing destination for Love.
The centerpiece of any such package would likely be Boston's top pick in this year's draft (the Celtics also own No. 17, the first of three picks they'll collect from last summer's blockbuster with the Brooklyn Nets). For Celtics fans, the disappointment of missing out on a top-three position could yet again be softened by moving that pick in a deal for an established talent (in 2007, the No. 5 pick helped them land Ray Allen from Seattle, which set the wheels in motion for acquiring Kevin Garnett from Minnesota).
Even in what's perceived to be a deep draft, Boston fans would seemingly be just fine with moving a pick that's fifth or worse. Regardless of how much talent is available in June, there still would be disappointment in missing out on one of the top names that are expected to be potential franchise jump-starters in Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid.
But moving a top-three pick won't be quite as easy for some to stomach, even if that might help further entice Minnesota to ponder a swap -- and maybe limit how many additional assets the Celtics would have to part with.
Love is a franchise-altering talent, one that won't need time to acclimate to the NBA level and would seemingly vault Boston back to contender status if paired with the likes of Rajon Rondo and complementary talent. Love won't turn 26 until September and topped the NBA in player efficiency rating this season (29.8) while averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. The downsides? He'll almost immediately command a max-money deal and even his evolution to a superstar wasn't enough to thrust a decent Minnesota team into the playoffs.
So let's say Minnesota was intrigued by a package that included draft picks, a young player like Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, and some additional parts to make salaries match (Boston also has nearly $8 million in nonguaranteed contracts that could offer trading partners immediate cap space relief). Would you pull the trigger on a deal if it included a top-three pick?
The danger of course is that Wiggins, Parker or Embiid emerges as a superstar talent and Boston misses out on acquiring one of those players at the low-budget price of a rookie pact. The additional cap relief that would offer might help Boston further maneuver to add another star talent using its remaining assets -- including the ones it wouldn't have to part with in making a potential deal for Love.
There's plenty of risk and reward with each scenario. When considering whether to trade a top pick, it might simply come down to just how in love you are with the player available to you.
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