Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Kevin Love enjoyed a meal this past weekend. In all likelihood, Love ate many meals, but we know for sure he had at least one.
That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. There's nothing in Love's contract that says he has to starve himself during the offseason. Plus, if you've ever seen Love's Taco Bell commercial where he devours a plate of nachos the size of Rhode Island, you'll know he has a tremendous appetite.
What was different about this meal was where it took place. Love plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, so it's natural to think he has most of his meals in that general vicinity, possibly while enjoying Prince's company. But this meal was consumed in the great city of Boston.
Mark Wahlberg, Paul Revere, Denis Leary, Tom Brady, yada yada ... you get it. Boston is awesome. We all know that. But what in the world was Love, an Oregon native who spent his college years (edit: year) in Los Angeles, doing in Eastern Massachusetts?
Was he in the mood for clam chowder? Are he and Matt Damon making a movie together? Are he and Big Papi bros?
Come on people, don't you get it? Kevin Love is about to be traded to the Boston Celtics.
If Love was in town visiting relatives that would be one thing. But he was doing touristy stuff, taking pictures at Harvard and going to Strega, a famous Italian restaurant that shows Goodfellas on a 24-hour loop (don't get any ideas, Big K). He seemed genuinely interested in Boston's culture.
Love could have left after one meal. But instead he spent the entire weekend in Beantown, even trekking up to Fenway to catch a Sox game on Sunday ("Let's go Jonny Lestah!"). And who did he meet there but Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The photo of Love and Rondo shaking hands (props to Rondo on his sweet bucket hat) became the lasting image of Love's visit. It also may be the start of a new era in Celtics basketball.
Love to the Celtics is a win/win for everybody. Love can't stand Minnesota anymore and the T-Wolves would be foolish to sit back and watch his contract expire without getting anything in return. And though the Celtics don't have a superstar to give the Wolves as collateral, they do have 17 draft picks over the next five seasons. That should give Minnesota more than enough pieces to start over.
Love is the savior this town needs. But more importantly, he's what Rondo needs. Rondo is a pass-first player who thrives when he has a big man to feed in the low post. For many years, that player was Kevin Garnett. Rondo averaged 10.8 assists per game during the final four years of the Big Three Era. Last year with Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass wasting space in the middle of the floor, that number fell to 9.8 dimes per game. With Rondo's contract up at the end of next season, this is a make or break year for Boston's best player.
A blockbuster trade could help Boston in more ways than one. It would certainly help the C's trim some of the fat off their roster. See ya, Keith Bogans. Take a hike, Bass. Gerald Wallace is still on the team? Not anymore. Pack your bags, we've got you on the next flight to Minnesota.
But with Love, it's more than that. Love would change everything about the C's. The Timberwolves have been an offensive juggernaut, finishing tenth or better in scoring three of the last four seasons. Thanks to Love, they've also been one of the better rebounding teams in the league, peaking at 44.7 rpg in 2014. The Celtics, meanwhile, were 17th in the league in rebounding this past season and haven't averaged more than 100 ppg since 2009. Love could single-handedly reverse both of these trends.
To give you an idea of just how dominant Love was in 2014, look how similar his numbers are to the ones posted by Hall of Fame power forwards Charles Barkley and Karl Malone during their age-25 seasons.
Love: 26.1 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 4.4 apg
Barkley: 28.3 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 3.2 apg
Malone: 29.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.7 apg
Barkley and Malone may have had the edge in scoring but Love was a better rebounder and easily the best passer out of the three. Malone and Barkley were non-factors from the three-point line (31.3 percent for Malone that season, 28.0 for Barkley) while Love shot nearly 38 percent from that distance in 2014. Simply put, Love is better than both Barkley and Malone were at this stage of their careers.
Still not convinced Love will end up in Boston? Well maybe this will change your mind. Love's agent, Jeff Schwartz (not related to the guy I share a cubicle with), also has Paul Pierce as a client. You know, that guy who led the Celtics to a championship in 2008. To this day, Pierce has never had a bad thing to say about the organization that drafted him in 1998.
There's also the simple fact that Love grew up idolizing Larry Bird, arguably the most revered figure in Boston sports history and also the player Love's skill set most resembles. Playing in Boston would be just as satisfying for Love as it would be for Celtics fans.
And yes, Kevin, Taco Bell does have a location in Cambridge. Crunchwraps are on the house.
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