Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge has his work cut out bringing the Celtics back to the forefront.AP PHOTOSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting
Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge has his work cut out bringing the Celtics back to the forefront. AP PHOTO

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

It's difficult to watch two franchises that have combined for 33 NBA titles be stuck in a state of futility.

Cellar-dwelling is just not in the DNA of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet, 2013-14 brought 25 wins and 27 wins, respectively, for those two iconic teams. We all know that there are ebbs and flows to greatness -- any team can have an off year. But it's still strange to see those two struggle that much in the same season.

Meanwhile, during those bleak months, fans of both teams looked to stay positive with hopes that a summer of free agency and roster re-tooling would cure what was ailing the C's and the Lakers.

So far, no such luck.

Over in La-La Land, dreams of adding a free agent superstar like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James never came to fruition for the Lakers. Instead, Los Angeles' big prizes have been guard Jeremy Lin (doesn't Linsanity seem so long ago?) and forward Carlos Boozer, who was waived by the Chicago Bulls using the amnesty provision.

In Boston, we're still waiting on those fireworks. That is, after all, what Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck envisioned way back in March for this summer.

Here's what the C's have done so far: drafted Marcus Smart and James Young; reached a four-year, $32-million deal to retain guard Avery Bradley; acquired center Tyler Zeller, guard Marcus Thornton and Cleveland's 2016 first-round pick as part of a three-team trade with the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers; and acquired a conditional second-round pick and a $4.


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3 million trade exception as part of a sign-and-trade deal that delivered Celtics free agent Kris Humphries to the Washington Wizards.

There are certainly some nice pieces and assets in there. But fireworks? Um, that would be a no. I usually like my fireworks to have some excitement and flash. But maybe that's just me.

It's no secret that Boston isn't considered a prime destination for NBA free agents. With its cold, snowy winters and high taxes, players often don't get too hyped about the idea of playing in Beantown. To alleviate that, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and the Celtics' front office have reportedly been expressing major interest in Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love.

A double-double machine with a pure shooting stroke, Love will be a free agent next summer. He has made clear his plans to bolt Minnesota -- also cold and snowy -- after next season. So the conventional wisdom is that Timberwolves head coach, president and part-owner Flip Saunders will deal Love away at some point rather than losing him for nothing in return.

It's always been debatable just how strong of a package the Celtics could put together for Love. Boston is stocked with draft picks over the next handful of years and has young players like Bradley and Smart, or forwards Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.

Unfortunately, all of that pales in comparison to what Cleveland can offer Minnesota now that LeBron James has returned to the Cavs.

With the 6-foot-8 James in Cleveland for what the Cavs' brass hopes will be the rest of his Hall of Fame career, No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins becomes expendable. Minnesota would no doubt be happy to take back a package of Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 draft pick in 2013, in exchange for Love. The T-Wolves could market that duo as the future of the franchise.

Boston can't compete with Cleveland in the Love sweepstakes, and it also appears it can't compete with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are hesitant to part ways with guard Klay Thompson in a deal for Love, even though including Thompson would probably get a deal done. The Warriors also have All-Star forward David Lee and young forward Harrison Barnes as nice potential chips.

The Celtics are stuck. Another 25-win season seems on the horizon unless a drastic deal gets done.

Many people are clamoring for the Celtics to trade point guard Rajon Rondo as the backup plan if they can't land Love. Rondo will also be a free agent next summer, and could be seeking a max contract. He also likely won't want to resign with a Celtics team in a long rebuild.

Those "trade Rondo" people should still be careful what they wish for. There aren't many dynamic, championship-winning, 28-year-old, All-Star point guards out there. Rondo's 2014-15 salary is an affordable $12,909,090. 

It wouldn't be smart to trade Rondo, simply for the sake of trading him. Or to manufacture those forecasted fireworks. He is a proven talent in his prime in Boston, a city that struggles to convince proven talents to come and play. Who knows, maybe if Rondo stays the season, he'll decide he wants to be here long term, and will be willing to sign a reasonable new contract.

At this point, there just aren't any easy answers for how the Celtics get back to competing for NBA titles.

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter and Tout @MattLangone