In this week's NBA Self-Mailbag, Grantland's Bill Simmons ranks the teams with the best chances to win the Kevin Love pursuit and places the Boston Celtics second behind only the lottery-winning Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston Celtics: They have a war chest of assets, including two 2014 picks (no. 6 and no. 17), two 2015 first-rounders (their own and an unprotected Clippers pick), two unprotected Brooklyn first-rounders (2016 and 2018), a pick swap from Brooklyn in 2017 (unprotected), a $10.3 million trade exception, Keith Bogans’s waivable-ASAP contract ($5.1 million, perfect for trade match), Brandon Bass’s deal (expires in 2015) and two decent young players (Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk). They can accommodate ANY Kevin Love trade. Oh, and they have Brad Stevens and one of the league’s most respected organizations, as well as the team that keeps celebrating its players and welcoming them home even after they retire. That too.
The most logical offer: Both 2014 picks, both 2015 picks, Sullinger, Bogans and Bass’s expiring for Love. That’s four first-rounders (including the no. 6 pick). If they pulled it off, they’d have to move quickly on Houston’s Asik, even if it meant taking Jeremy Lin’s contract as the price for Asik — conceivably, they could absorb Asik with the aforementioned trade exception and absorb Lin’s deal with their cap space — which helps Houston because they need to dump the Lin/Asik contracts to pursue Carmelo. You tell me: Could you compete in the East with a starting five of Love, Rajon Rondo, Asik, Jeff Green and Free Agent 2-Guard TBA? And could you make the Finals with a Big Three of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony? YES AND YES! Let’s do this!
(And if all of this happens, followed by an unhappy Celtics season and Love and Rondo bolting in 2015 to sign with the Lakers and Knicks, respectively, then I’m moving to England and throwing myself into the Premier League. No farewell column, no good-bye party, nothing. I’m out. Nice knowing you.)
Simmons also predicts the Celtics will take Arizona's Aaron Gordon if they hold onto the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft:
If the Celtics don’t trade their pick, they’re taking Shawn Marion 2.0 (a.k.a. Aaron Gordon).
That’s right, Matrix 2! (Whoops, that movie sucked — bad nickname.) What about … The Re-Matrix? I believe that Gordon is destined to become this year’s Russell Westbrook — a.k.a. the crazy-competitive, crazy-good athlete who doesn’t seem to have an official position yet, only the more teams work him out and watch tape of him, the more they fall in love with him. I’m worried about Utah taking him fifth if they can’t trade up for Jabari. Don’t tell anyone.