Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love may be traded before the season begins, which is logical when considering reports that he won’t re-sign there in free agency the following summer.
The Celtics are one of many teams rumored to be interested if indeed the Timberwolves decide on that course of action, and despite their current state of rebuilding that may not be of interest to Love initially, Boston has assets in the form of future first round draft picks and young players that would be enticing to Minnesota’s front office.
Love would likely have to agree to sign a max deal in free agency with a new team in order for them to give up anything of significance in exchange for his services, and it’s unclear how he feels about Boston. Read into this what you will, but he’s in town this weekend to check the city out.
From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:
Love was seen in Boston Friday hanging out at bars near TD Garden and took a picture with the owner of “The Greatest Bar,” and he also was seen fraternizing with Patriots players. On Saturday, Love walked the streets of the city and took a picture with a thrilled Harvard graduate. A smiling Love was sporting a Team USA Olympic sweater and was holding a beverage cup.
When approached by the Globe at a local hotel, Love said: “I’m sorry man, I can’t do nothing [in terms of talking], I can’t.” …
“I’ve never really spent much time in Boston. I don’t know it too well,” he said in February in New Orleans. “But I think as far as playing there, we love competing against those guys. I think they have a great coach and they have a ton of youngsters that are up-and-comers.”
The Celtics aren’t as immediately desirable as either the Warriors or the Bulls — teams reportedly at the top of Love’s wish list. But if Love believes in Brad Stevens as a head coach, and in Danny Ainge’s ability to build a contender around him from the front office, then Boston may in fact become an appealing destination if a trade, and not free agency, ultimately determines where he’ll play next.
Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.
Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.
But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.
LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.
LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.
However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.
For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.
Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.