It’s all or nothing in Boston, Massachusetts.
Over the course of the past month, the Boston Celtics have commanded as many headlines as the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Boston has been everything from the front-runner to land Kevin Love via trade to a team to watch at the 2014 Draft.
In the blink of an eye, everything changed.
The Celtics have gone from the front-runners for Love to a media afterthought in the hunt for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ coveted power forward. New offers have been presented to Minnesota and the Celtics have transformed into something of an enigmatic contender.
Despite the signs that Love wants to play in Boston, the T-Wolves have full control over where the big man ends up.
There are no guarantee that Love will be traded at all. There’s also the possibility that he signs with the Celtics in 2015 when he’s eligible for unrestricted free agency. As the window of opportunity to use draft picks as trade leverage closes, however, the time for a potential deal is nearing.
While things are looking bleak for Boston, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reports that the Celtics are still committed to acquiring Love for the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics are not giving up on Kevin Love. They have thus far been rebuffed by Minnesota in their attempts to land the star forward, but, according to sources, their talks with the Timberwolves are continuing.
The Celts are hoping they can come up with a package to entice the Wolves, or that the club’s president of basketball operations/coach Flip Saunders will rethink his needs and plan as next Thursday’s NBA draft approaches.
That comes as expected. What followed that revelation doesn’t.
If the Celtics fail to land Love, the plan is to break up the entire roster. There are no exceptions to that, which means some of the top players on the team—including the face of the franchise—could soon be on their way out.
That includes Rajon Rondo.
If the Celtics cannot get Love, they are planning to continue with the longer and more methodical rebuilding process, a process that would likely see Rajon Rondo traded. (An NBA source said they would also have a taker for Jeff Green if they chose to move him.)
But the Celts are still efforting a trade for Love to accelerate their improvement.
That escalated quickly.
On top of being a four-time All-Star, Rondo is a two-time assists leader, the 2010 steals champion and a four-time All-Defense selection. He’s one of the best postseason performers in the league, most recently carving up the Miami Heat for a 44-point performance, five double-doubles and a triple-double in the seven-game 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
Earlier that season, Rondo ripped off 24 consecutive games with at least 10 assists—the longest streak since John Stockton did it in 29 straight outings in 1992.
Plain and simple, Rondo is a world-class point guard.
There’s no question that a combination of he and Love would make the Celtics one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. By missing out on Love, however, Danny Ainge reportedly feels that Boston will suffer a setback that not even Rondo can help it overcome.
To add fuel to the fire, Ainge told CSN New England in March that there are, “No game-changers” in the 2014 NBA Draft. Even with the No. 6 selection, the Celtics are of the mindset that free agency and the trade market offer the only resistance to a rebuild.
One way or another, the Celtics will look very different in 2014-15.
Rajon Rondo Recruiting Carmelo Anthony?
It’s been established that it’s Love-or-bust for Boston, yes? There’s just one issue with that notion.
Rajon Rondo doesn’t seem to be following that train of thought.
Rondo guest-hosted Numbers Never Lie, one of ESPN2’s signature programs, with Jemele Hill. Inevitably, the Celtics became a topic of conversation. So too did a looming period of free agency that consists of high-profile names and potential trade targets.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t Kevin Love who was most commonly referred to as Boston’s primary target.
It was New York Knicks star and potential unrestricted free agent Carmelo Anthony, as transcribed by The Boston Globe.
“You never know what Danny [Ainge] is capable of doing,” Rondo said. “I can’t tell you too much. We want to be contenders as well next year. We don’t plan on being down for too long. I think Danny has a lot of wiggle room with what he’s done the last couple years with the draft so I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen so hopefully [Carmelo Anthony] doesn’t go to Chicago.”
Rondo continued: “After we try to get Melo, or that additional piece, then who knows? The sky’s the limit. I play to try to win a championship every year. And with Melo I think it’s very possible.”
Don’t worry, Love fans. Rondo mentioned him, as well.
“We could talk about Kevin [Love] all day or we can insert Carmelo [Anthony’s] name in there all day,” Rondo said back on June 2nd. “Nothing’s happened. We have a couple days left before the draft, things might shake up around that time. You never know. It’s still a long summer until the beginning of training camp.”
Do you trust Bulpett’s informative reports or Rondo’s comments? My best advice: reference both.
Regardless of who you believe, it’s clear that the Celtics are swinging for the fences this summer. It wouldn’t be the first time during the Danny Ainge era that such an approach was used to surround an established star with similarly prolific performers.
Back in 2007, the Celtics shocked the NBA community by signing Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce in Boston. That trio went on to win an NBA championship and make a second Finals appearance—both of which happened with Rondo on the roster.
This time around, it’s Rondo, now 28, who’s in Pierce’s shoes as an already somewhat legendary Celtic who’s in need of support.
If you ask the star point guard himself, he and the Celtics believe they can land an All-Star this summer. If you tack on the recent reports, that belief is paired with a blow-it-all-up ultimatum.
One way or another, this will be a league-altering summer in the NBA. Boston will be at the heart of it all.