LeBron-to-Cavs probably means bye-bye Love for C's

LeBron-to-Cavs probably means bye-bye Love for C's
July 11, 2014, 2:15 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. — The Celtics knew going in that the three-way deal they swung with Cleveland and Brooklyn this week could significantly re-shape the power structure in the NBA.

The Cavaliers were motivated to do the deal so they could create enough salary cap space to acquire LeBron James.

Well James is bound for a return to Cleveland courtesy of the Celtics' inclusion in the deal.

But the real pain for Celtics Nation comes in the knowledge that the one player that Boston has had its heart set on acquiring sooner rather than later - Minnesota's Kevin Love - may be interested in taking his talents to Cleveland as well.

Of course any deal involving Love isn't his call, but that of Timberwolves coach/GM Flip Saunders.

While Saunders has shown a reluctance to deal with teams heavy on draft picks and low on impact talent, the Cavs are able to dangle Andrew Wiggins as a potential trade chip as well as a slew of lottery pick players they've acquired over the past couple of years.

And Boston knows all too well the value in swinging deals to land more than one mega-watt talent.

Such deals have the effect of taking a franchise from being woeful - yes Cleveland, we know that you know about this - to being a world-beater, overnight.

In 2007, Boston went from being a regular in the loser's lounge that we know as the NBA lottery, to winning it all a year later with the additions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

This is among the reasons why Ainge and company have been operating for months on at least two distinct parallel tracks in building this team up.

There's the slower, more painful road of rebuilding through the draft. And then there's the preferred route, which would be acquiring assets with the mindset being to flip them for a more talented, higher-impact player or players quickly.

By no means is that impossible, but it's looking harder and harder to achieve for the Celtics.

Boston is one of those franchises where talent alone won't cut it. There are certain players that, regardless of their skill set, do not have the intangibles to succeed in Boston.

Kevin Love was an exception.

Not only is he talented, but he clearly has the ability to connect with the New England fan base in a way that few players in this league have the potential to do.

During his weekend excursion to Boston, he took pictures with students, hung out near Causeway Street. And when he went to see the Red Sox play at Fenway, he just happened to run into (wink-wink) Rajon Rondo.

Love's ability, his interest in Boston, it all seemed to good to be true.

That may indeed be the case.

Now that the Cavs have James, he'll be looking for another big-time talent to play with him. You can bet the Cavs will make a play for the 6-foot-10 big man.

And that's not good for the Celtics.

But you won't find Ainge second-guessing his decision to strike the deal after passing on other opportunities earlier to use the $10.3 trade exception generated last year from the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade.

"It was a good deal for us," Ainge said, prior to James announcing his return to Cleveland on Friday. "Who knows what's going to happen for Cleveland. It could end up being good for them, too. We are all waiting to see what's going on with their cap space. I wish I was in their position."

So does Celtics Nation.