You can’t deny it Boston Celtics fans, your team’s big-man rotation is keeping you up at night. It’s the only interruption during your mid-day dreams of raising banner #18. Could Kevin Love be the solution that would bring you back to a sound slumber every night?
In a nail-biting, exhilarating but ultimately meaningless preseason opening joust with the Queen City’s anything-but-royal Charlotte Hornets, the Boston Celtics shined in many areas…the center position was not one of them.
Discounting Enes Kanter‘s offensive output (his only role is to be that of a post-scoring specialist) the Celtics’ big-man platoon put up seven points. Vincent Poirier showed fundamentals, but also failed to hunt for his shot in the first five minutes of game-time in his NBA career. He didn’t attempt even a single layup despite having an opportunity to grabbing his only rebound on the offensive glass.
Robert Williams was also relegated to a lob-and-block pivot in the mold of DeAndre Jordan. He kicked off the contest with a stupendous slam off of a Gordon Hayward over-the-head set-up. That was the extent of his offensive output.
And then there was Tacko Fall. The fan-favorite for the Boston Celtics final roster spot actually showed fire with several highlight plays. While the plays were feel-good for the TD Garden crowd, Fall might be nothing more than a garbage-time participant with immense marketing potential. You could love grown men in taco costumes, but you could be realistic about Fall ever playing even a minute against Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic or Andre Drummond…at least he shouldn’t in 2019-20.
Brad Stevens looks to be deploying Kanter as a second unit anchor alongside Marcus Smart. That, to the coach’s credit, is an excellent way to spark a team that can be on the second night of a back-to-back after a tedious bus ride the night prior. It’s also reveals a grave problem for Boston: they do not have a legitimate starting center on the roster.
The only way to upgrade right now is a trade. No free agent potential or existing free agent sounds like a better use of resources than Stevens using his gaggle of young bigs to temporarily fill the void. When it comes to available game-changers, one that makes a ton of sense on a team that can outscore anyone from the 1-4 positions is the multiple All-NBA honoree Kevin Love.
Love is stuck on a rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers team that looks poised for another lottery finish, especially given the implications of their 2020 pick being top-10 protected. That is no way for the second option on a team that made the NBA Championship just 16 months ago to spend the tail end of his prime.
At age 31, Love is still able to perform at the highest level. He was limited to just 22 games last season due to various ailments (and perhaps a lack of purpose, given he brings Cleveland closer to winning) but still put up 17 points and 10 rebounds. That was with sharing the floor with Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr.
With the Boston Celtics, the only rebounding threat would be Kanter, who presumably wouldn’t even share the floor with. At this stage of his career, given his relative lack of burst, Love should be limited to playing the center position. While he can’t match up physically with every NBA center, he would give the Boston Celtics enough offensively to overwhelm opposing defenses.
Imagining the spacing for the Celtics’ various slashers alongside Love is tantalizing, but the thing you have to consider is who it would take to give up in order to acquire the 2016 NBA champion. Gordon Hayward’s deal is a must. Given his potential free agency status at the end of the year, Hayward could get pricey while Love is locked in for $120 million over the next four years. Hayward could be in line for an even bigger portion of the salary cap, particularly if he signs a 1+1 deal next summer to really cash in during the cap spike in 2021.
Now is not the time to make such a drastic roster change, though. The Golden State Warriors won a championship with Zaza Pachulia as the starting center. Why can’t the Boston Celtics get enough from the 1-5 positions (or even mix it up with their own death lineup) and make this entire conversation obsolete?
If Love can prove he is still dominant and Boston’s center position continues to put a cap on their potential, maybe the Boston Celtics should come and get their love.
On John Lennon’s 79th birthday, I say: love is wanting to be loved… just not by the Boston Celtics.