Kelly Olynyk may have damaged the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Playoff chances when he put Kevin Love on the shelf for the next 4-6 months with a left shoulder injury. Olynyk maintains that he did not injur Love on purpose during Boston’s final game of a series sweep against Cleveland, but many believe that the jury is still out on that one. Either way, while Olynyk may have done the Cavs a disservice – either accidentally or with intent – he may have actually done the Celts a favor/
Love can opt out of his contract with Cleveland after this season. He is slated to make nearly $17 million in the final year of a deal he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves a few years ago, and insists that his intent is to remain with the Cavaliers for the long haul, either by opting out and signing a new five-year max deal this summer, or by playing out his current contract and then re-upping in 2016.
But, many people do not believe that Love has no interest in testing the free agent market this summer. Of course, that was before he suffered a major injury. Even the worst case scenario of the shoulder timeline would have Love back and able to play in games by October, which would mean he is unlikely to miss any of the 2015-2016 NBA regular season. Still, it may be something that makes teams a bit more hesitant to give him a max contract in a few months.
The Celtics were rumored to be a destination for Love if he does decide to opt out of his deal with the Cavs and look for a third team to call home. Along with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, the Celtics have the interest and cap space available to add a player such as Love. After Olynyk pulled off a move that would make Ronda Rousey envious, it may be that the Celtics are off of any list that involves potential landing spots for Love.
If that does turn out to be the case, is that a bad thing?
Love is a very talented player. I am not doubting that. But, is he a max player? I thought that he was when he was playing with a terrible Timberwolves squad, but I sort of changed my stance after watching him in Cleveland this past season. Sure, things were different, as the offense was no longer centered around Love. The Cavs run their offense through LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
So, what does that mean going forward? If Love is the centerpiece, then all is well? But, if other top players are brought in, then Love falters a bit? I don’t care that Love’s points and rebound totals dropped off significantly last season. He played less and had other players around him to lessen the burden. But, he also shot worse from the field and the free throw line.
Still just 26-years-old, I’m not sure that Love is the player to build around, especially for a team that has plenty of money and can use it on other players over the next few seasons. Though he is three years older, I would much rather prefer going after LaMarcus Aldridge. Or, what about DeAndre Jordan, who is the same age as Love? The Celtics could also wait a year and chase players such as Kevin Durant or Brook Lopez, or spread around that cap space and go after the likes of Nicolas Batum, Bradley Beal and Wilson Chandler, provided they don’t re-sign with their current teams.
The Celtics have a ton of draft picks and plenty of money. If they are to return to glory in the Eastern Conference, they have to make smart decisions. I’m just not sure that Love is the best decision to make. Let the Cavs figure out the answer to that one.