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The City of Brotherly Kevin Love? A Potential Trade Is Both Interesting and Problematic

Kevin Love is a tremendous, franchise player, but the Sixers would lose a lot in trading for him. Should they attempt to make a blockbuster, or will Love lead them back to the drawing board?

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love is an excellent NBA player, one you build a franchise around, and it's this fact that results in so much trade interest being drummed up by national media after Kevin Love's camp leaked his desire to "win," which is code for "get me out of here" to the rest of the NBA. Love has lost his patience with the Timberwolves, and in kind, the trade offers are mounting as the offseason for most teams has already begun.

Love may not be a gameplan-breaker, a la Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant, and that's not meant as a slight. There can only be so many. Instead, Love just does the most valuable aspects of basketball so well, at such a high volume and efficiency, that his value to an NBA team rivals that of any player who falls short of the LeBron-Durant tier. Well, except for defense.

When a player as good as Love becomes available though, and a team like the Sixers with plenty of assets and a willingness to deal comes up, the trade possibilities are at the very least intriguing. One very ill-conceived article (for reasons aside from this proposal) thought sending 3, 10, and Thaddeus Young to Minnesota was a good idea. That's a little too much for both sides - what's the point of including Thaddeus Young for the Wolves, anyway? - but the Sixers have cap space and assets, and the Wolves would want both back in a deal.

But no, even with the gobs of cap space, the deal has too much downside, and making it could really set back the Sixers' franchise.

There are three major, concurring issues that make this deal unfriendly for the Sixers. First: Love's camp has flatly stated he intends to exercise his option to become a free agent at the end of next season. Acquiring someone for one year with no guarantees about a future commitment is partially what has us tanking right now anyway. Doing it once is fine: compared to most of the NBA, the Sixers are in a good position with coaching, ownership, and front office stability and direction. But doing it twice is unnecessary, and completely alienating to a team's fans, especially if it's easily avoidable.

Most "NBA people" believe Love wants to play on the West Coast. I don't know many NBA people personally, but I have no reason not to believe that. Love played in college at UCLA, went to high school in Oregon, and wants to raise his actually-impressive-for-Minneapolis-with-no-playoff-appearances profile. He also wants to get to his preferred destinations without a PR mess, using the playoff absences as a convenient spin, and get there before hitting free agency to cash in on a potential five-year max contract instead of the free agent four-year deal.

The Sixers don't offer the market that, say, Los Angeles has, though it's actually very large, and lots of people don't understand that. But the weather and the fame in LA trump whatever we can offer (I've never been, but Levin confirms this). Love may be willing to opt into his contact if he goes to Los Angeles. For a team that shamelessly, smartly tanked a whole season in a smaller market and on the wrong coast? I doubt this.

Second: trading for Love would probably make the Sixers, with whatever else they can add, a middle tier playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Love and the cast of Mad Men could probably mount a charge for the 7-seed in the East. That's good for his desire to make the playoffs or whatever. That's not good for, well, almost everything else.

Let's say the trade is for 3, 10, and some of the Sixers' nonguaranteed contacts for salary purposes (long live Casper Ware!). It gives Minnesota what they want without taking on a contract like David Lee's, so aside from Cleveland dangling the giant, Andrew Wiggins-sized carrot in front of them, this should be the best offer Minnesota could receive. The Sixers give up the two draft picks there, and assuming they make the playoffs with Love, they give up the pick owed to Orlando next season as well for winning too much. That's three draft picks in two years for a chance at one season for Love.

Love would represent the end of the rebuild, basically. This is a problem, of course, because the Sixers need more than just him.

And finally, the third issue: Love's prime does not necessarily coincide with the players' that we have on the roster. If he were to re-sign, Love will only be turning 26, but Noel will be just 20 this coming season. Michael Carter-Williams will be 22. That's not a large difference, but Love will likely be leaving his athletic prime at the same time MCW hits his and Noel approaches his own. Considering the lack of draft picks brought on by this potential trade, this is your core, for better or worse.

The Spurs have proven your stars don't need to be young, or in their prime, or even the primary value generators on your team. But they're freaking zombies with Space Jam powers. Other teams, like the Heat and Thunder, have been repeatedly in title contention due to having star players paired together for their athletic peaks. The Sixers just miss the timing by a bit, in my opinion.

As great as it would be for MCW and Nerlens to play with an excellent NBA player, the potential future cost is frighteningly high. Even if the Sixers could add more players, and they'd be able to use their second rounders and cap space as assets, that's not enough to build a legit contender in a year. Only that would be enough to keep Love from leaving for warmer pastures. Cleveland as a partner makes more sense simply because they're closer to being competitive, with a franchise point guard and enough help to shoot for the top half of the East. The 76ers aren't that close and have more to lose by making a deal.

Combining the likelihood of a departure after one year, the potentially steeper cost than it appears on the surface, and the core aging problems, the Sixers don't fit. It's a shame too, because of the joy in watching Kevin Love on a regular basis and making countless love puns. But Love will (probably)tear us apart if we swing a deal and likely put a quick end to this rebuild.

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