With the draft less than a week away, trade rumors are at an all time high. The most intriguing one of all is most certainly anything surrounding the name Kevin Love. It’s no secret that at the end of the 2015 season Love will be a free agent, and the chances of him returning to Minnesota are slim to none. While teams like Golden State and Boston have expressed interest in acquiring his services, it should also be something that the 76ers should consider.
The thought of Kevin Love coming to Philadelphia and actually chosing to stay here is certainly one that brings skepticism. Except it’s one that could benefit the Sixers more than any other team. As far as trades go, the Sixers are one of the few teams that could offer a unique package of sorts to Minnesota. With two lottery picks at their disposal, they at least provide the temptation that most GMs would crave at this time of a year. The 2014 draft class has been fawned over for months now, and Minnesota isn’t in the best position to bargain. Trying to find fair compensation for Kevin Love is proving to be difficult for good reason. At best Love is a top five NBA talent, that could make any team he goes to better. At worst Love is barely in the top ten, and still a coveted piece to any want-to-be contender.
Both of those scenarios are perfect for any team that wants Love. The issue is that Minnesota has made it known that they’re not looking to rebuild. Trading Love and keeping that same stance contradicts their entire objective completely, but that’s their problem to sort out. The point is you’ll be hard pressed to find a suitable offer that will value the services of a Kevin Love period. The Timberwolves might receive a solid player or two, along with a first round pick of sorts, but nothing that will help them win now.
That is why they should ignore that idea completely, and the 76ers are the team that could help with that transition. There is no guarantee that Kevin Love will stay beyond this season, but Sam Hinkie has learned from one of the best in Daryl Morey in how to build a solid team. With Joel Embiid issues rising, the chances of the 76ers being able to draft Andrew Wiggins are decreasing by the day. Not to mention there is no guarantee that any player the Sixers draft will be as good as Kevin Love. Minnesota has a chance to rebuild their foundation with the third or tenth overall pick (though I’d assume both would be offered), while the 76ers would have an All Star talent in Love. Even throw in the expiring deals of Jason Richardson or the veteran Thad Young into the mix.
Before you scoff at the notion of taking on a player that will leave after the season, consider this. With over $34 million in salary cap, the team is in a prime position to make moves. Their rebuilding situation isn’t desirable for free agents right now, but having Kevin Love on the roster after a draft day trade makes the July 1st free agency frenzy that more interesting. Love will only stay on a team that he believes will contend, and with him on your team in a wide-open Eastern Conference, that is a real possibility. Acquiring him immediately changes Philly’s status from rebuilding to a team on the brink. There are several free agents that aren’t in the upper echelon that will still garner value wherever they wind up. Names like Luol Deng/Gordon Hayward/ Lance Stephenson are players that may not receive the most favorable looks from contenders, but could be persuaded to give Philly a chance. Especially with a Kevin Love locked away. Hinkie has shown that he is here to establish a winning foundation (minus the tank fest of last season), and there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t sell this vision with Kevin Love by acquiring immediate pieces as proof. The progression of Michael Carter-Williams and the soon-to-debut Nerlens Noel also play a heavy factor, but certainly one to pique interest. Their rookie deals allow them.
Obviously these scenarios aren’t as tangible as others, but certainly just as promising as others. Kevin Love goes to Boston there is no guarantee they contend even with Rajon Rondo, and his contract is up at the end of next season as well. Golden State is preparing to offer two of the reasons why they were so successful to begin with to acquire Love, and that could easily backfire on them. In Philadelphia there really is nowhere to go but up. Trading potential for a proven star in Love provides short-term security, and using Love to attract other desirable talent in the following weeks would make strides towards the long-term. MCW is coming off a Rookie of The Year campaign, and in a “What have you done for me lately” league, this is still the East. Playoffs are never out of reach. Perhaps it is a pipe dream, but the 76ers are in the unique position more than any other to take the chance.