General managers and front office-types can't talk specifically about players who are under contract with other teams for fear of a massive fine from the league office for tampering. But make no mistake here, Danny Ainge is referring to Kevin Love, who wants out from the Minnesota Timberwolves and could be be intrigued by joining the Boston Celtics. And Ainge, based on recent comments made to a local radio station, is willing to roll the dice even without a long-term commitment from a player of his caliber.
First, the initial report from CSNNE.com on Love's interest in Boston can be found here.
Now, Ainge in his own words, to 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich on Wednesday as reported by CSNNE.com: "A couple of things. We have great tradition and Boston is a wonderful place to play. All of our players that have been playing here over the years, particularly those that might be relevant over the last few years, maybe even those that are on our team right now. Our players love playing in Boston. I think that if they talk to any of those guys, agents of players that are currently playing on our team or that are playing on our team in the last few years have loved Boston and we have a lot of good, positive feedback from their experience in playing with the Celtics.
"Second of all we may have opportunities for them to play and shine and continue on their track. But in the new collective bargaining agreement, extensions are hard to get because if you're a really good player for example, if you waited until next summer, you could get five-year contract with the max dollars if you're really good. Whereas if you're traded to Boston with one year left on your contract, you can only do a three-year extension. So it's pretty significant for players, and we've seen that with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul were traded in the last year of their contract. The Clippers re-signed a five-year contract extension, and Dwight left and went and signed in Houston."
The Celtics have the No. 6 pick in next month's draft. Before trading any assets for a player such as Love, who has a year left on his deal with Minnesota before he can opt out, every potential landing place would require that he commit to signing an extension. Ainge, however, claimed he might be willing to take a chance without such a guarantee.
"I would contemplate that, yes," Ainge said. "It would depend on the player, it would depend on the risk, but sometimes I think you need to take some risk. But I would consider it, yes."
Sounds great, but not buying that one. Speaking theoretically is one thing. Actuality is another. No responsible decision-maker would put a franchise at risk without assurances, even for an All-Star such as Love. Even if Ainge wanted to, ownership likely would step in to squash it.