UPDATE at 7:10 p.m. — It appears the Cavaliers have found the nonguaranteed contracts they need.
With ESPN’s Marc Stein reporting that the Cleveland Cavaliers are “increasingly confident” they will acquire Kevin Love — and reports that the Chicago Bulls andDenver Nuggets are also pushing attractive trade packages to the Minnesota Timberwolves — the Boston Celtics could be completely out of the Love conversation soon, if they aren’t already.
Danny Ainge might still be pursuing creative ways to make something happen, but if the last two No. 1 overall picks are on the table, the Bulls offer Taj Gibson/Jimmy Butler/other assets, and the Timberwolves don’t like what Boston can offer, there just isn’t a lot the Celtics can do.
With the growing likelihood they have no shot at Love, here is something to keep an eye on:
If the Cavaliers are indeed looking for disappearing contracts to facilitate a Love deal, the Celtics could be able to help out. To my knowledge, Keith Bogans owns the biggest fully-nonguaranteed 2014-15 contract in the NBA. Including him, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb, Ainge has three guards on nonguaranteed deals worth about $7 million combined. I don’t know how realistic the Celtics getting involved as the third team in a Love trade would be, but they definitely have a lot of nonguaranteed money. If the trade dollars work, that $7 million could afford Minnesota some instant salary-cap relief.
I know, I know. Aiding the Cavaliers’ Love pursuit would mean 1) Ainge helping another team get the player he’s wanted for months, and 2) Ainge helping an Eastern Conference team partner Kevin Love with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, a trio that could potentially make the Finals for who-knows-how-many years to come. But if the other option is sitting on the sidelines while Love lands in the East anyway, Ainge might decide to help Cleveland (again) to keep adding to his pile of assets. No matter what the Celtics do, Love appears headed somewhere else.