Could the Sixers land Love? Making sense of the latest rumors

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FILE – Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, foreground, controls the ball during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Jan. 8, 2023. Love was not moved at the NBA’s trade deadline, and the Cavaliers do not expect him to leave anytime soon. Although Love has been temporarily dropped from Cleveland’s rotation, Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman said Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, that he has not had any discussions with the five-time All-Star about a contract buyout. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb, File)

There was a careful eye on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ intentions in the buyout market after an underwhelming trade deadline. With the Sixers’ backup center role still unsettled and an open roster spot available, there was still work for Daryl Morey to do.

This question was answered quickly as the Sixers signed Dewayne Dedmon to a minimum deal after he was released from the Miami Heat. However, they may not be done as recent reports linked the Sixers to another veteran big in Kevin Love.

Why Love to the Sixers Makes Sense

Standing 6’8” and a career 37.3% three-point shooter, Love is the prototypical stretch forward the Sixers have lacked throughout Joel Embiid’s career. He is a proven veteran with a championship ring on his finger and is content in taking a backseat as a role player at this stage of his career.

Adding Love would provide interesting flexibility on the roster as he, in theory, could play next to Embiid or as a big man with the bench unit. While he has fallen out of the youthful Cavalier’s rotation, it was just last season that Love averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 39.2% on three-point attempts across his 22.5 minutes per game.

The rebounding numbers are especially appealing as it increases the likelihood of his ability to play center in non-Embiid lineups. While he is several years out of his prime, this is the same player who once led the NBA in rebounds per game.

As the Sixers’ options currently stand, Love would be a nice upgrade over each of Dedmon, Paul Reed, and Montrezl Harrell. Playing him in a five-out offense during the non-Embiid minutes could provide the Sixers with some ideal spacing of which James Harden and Tyrese Maxey could capitalize.

Why Love to the Sixers Doesn’t Make Sense

Money talks and the Sixers have little to speak with. All Philadelphia can offer is a prorated veterans’ minimum deal worth around 600K. They also do not have an open roster spot following the Dedmon signing so would need to create this before landing Love would be a possibility.

Considering the strong focus of ownership to get underneath the tax, swallowing money does not look to be something very likely. This is especially the case as players like Danuel House Jr and Montrezl Harrell hold a player option with Furkan Korkmaz still on the books for next season which rules out the clearest paths to creating a roster spot without financial repercussions.

In contrast, the Heat still have $3.2 million left of their mid-level exception and are $4.8 million below the tax. They also have a much clearer role for Love with there being a real chance he walks right into the starting lineup. While Philadelphia could benefit from him as a rotational piece, there is still no guarantee for minutes in Doc Rivers’ rotations.

It is still to be seen how Rivers elects to stagger Embiid and Harden as the duo have spent the bulk of their minutes on the floor together this season. However, much of the consideration for the backup big position has gone into how they will play with Harden, which one could argue is the biggest reason Harrell is in Philadelphia.

Harden is artful in his manipulation of opponents in the pick-and-roll but this is not considered the be one of the stronger areas of Love’s game. While his rebounding sets him apart, it also should be noted that Georges Niang is more efficient and willing from beyond the three-point arc which must be weighed when looking at the potential stretch forward minutes.

There also should be some careful consideration for why Love is being freed from the Cavaliers roster. Cleveland sits in 4th place in the East with a record 38-23 and are dark-horse candidates to make an Eastern Conference run. This is far from a situation of a struggling team allowing a veteran to join a contender as the Cavaliers have a better postseason chance than the Heat as things currently stand.

In the 41 games he has played for the Cavaliers, Love has averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in his 20.0 minutes per game. He has not seen the court since January 24th and failed to get minutes in each of the last 12 games. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are no slouches to be benched for, but it should raise some eyebrows and it cannot be ruled out that he just doesn’t have anything left in the tank. While singing big men past their prime has become a theme for the Sixers, they have plenty of these on their roster already.

Will Love Land With Sixers?

It is intriguing that Love is at least meeting with the Sixers to hear them out. Much of this decision will have to do with what Love’s priorities are at this point in his career. He could make an impact with the Sixers and they are in the small category of true contenders across the league.

However, he also would have to be open to taking less money and having lesser of a role than would be the case in Miami. It would take some Daryl Morey magic to recruit Love and manipulate the roster to make room for the veteran. This would be a really nice addition at this point in the season if the Sixers can pull it off, but fans should not be shopping for a Sixers jersey with his name on it just yet.