Don't blame Ainge for LeBron -- and Love? -- going to Cavs

Don't blame Ainge for LeBron -- and Love? -- going to Cavs
July 11, 2014, 1:30 pm
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(AP Photo)

I got a call from a buddy of mine minutes after Sports Illustrated broke the news that LeBron James was going back home.

"Dude! I think I love LeBron now. That's awesome," he said.

I agreed.

In the next breath, he said, "They're going to get Kevin Love now, aren't they. Are we screwed?"

I hesitated for a second. I didn't straight-up agree, but it would seem extremely possible that Love - who previously said he did not want to play in Cleveland - would head right on over (and stay there, rather become a free agent at the end of next season).

It almost makes too much sense for Cleveland to trade for Love and play him with James and Kyrie Irving . . . along with whoever else hops on board.

And the Cavs have something the Celtics simply don't when it comes to making a trade for Love: an absolute stud prospect in Andrew Wiggins.

Yes, the Celtics have a ton of first-round picks. Yes, they have a few prospects who could turn out to be solid NBA players (Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcusm Smart). Throw in Avery Bradley, too (contract and all). But none of those players have the promise that Wiggins has.

And Wiggins may not fit in the Cavs’ new plans. His name certainly didn’t fit in James’ SI letter.

If Love wants out of Minnesota - and he does - Wolves GM Flip Saunders may have just found his best deal. It's hard to sell a rebuild to fans, but a lot less hard to do it with the 2014 No. 1 pick coming back, and one as heralded as Wiggins is.

And yes, the Celtics helped make it happen.

Did Danny Ainge dig his own grave? Well, I wouldn't say that.

He was instrumental in helping the Cavs ditch their salary to free up space for James. He made the three-team deal happen with the Nets, taking on the Cavs' Tyler Zeller and the Nets' Marcus Thornton, while allowing the Cavs to unload two more contracts (Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev) to Brooklyn.

But I find it extremely hard to believe the Cavs wouldn't have found another way to free up cap space for James if Boston wasn't part of the deal. They would have. It's LeBron freakin' James - you don't let a Jarrett Jack pu pu platter get in the way of that.

So Ainge did what was best for his team, knowing full well that if it wasn't the Celtics, it would be another team opening the door for the Cavs to acquire James.

James: the one everybody now loves . . . but also the one who may have just prevented the Celtics from Love.