Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has expressed a willingness to trade for a marquee player entering the final season of his contract with no assurances he would sign an extension with the team. Ainge made his comments to Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb on 98.5 The Sports Hub radio in Boston (Twitter link), and while he didn’t mention anyone in specific, it would appear he was referring to Kevin Love, who’s set to become a free agent in 2015, when he can exercise an early termination option in his contract.
Love reportedly sees the Celtics as an intriguing destination as he pressures the Wolves, through his agents at Excel Sports Management, to trade him by the draft. Ainge’s choice of words is key, as it’s unlikely Love signs an extension with any team, given that he’d be able to sign a much more lucrative deal as a free agent. Love isn’t even eligible to sign an extension until January 25th, 2015, the three-year anniversary of the date he signed his most recent extension with the Timberwolves. Teams aren’t allowed to sign players to extensions for six months after they acquire them via trade, unless they pull off an extend-and-trade transaction, which would further limit Love’s earning power. Ainge may be more concerned with receiving promises that Love would re-sign with the team in free agency in 2015 if he were to trade for him.
The Celtics would have plenty of competition for Love, as the Warriors, Lakers, Suns and Knicks are also in the mix for the All-Star power forward. They also have to make decisions concerning Rajon Rondo, who like Love is set to hit free agency after next season.