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Report: Kevin Love ‘plans to talk’ to Sixers as he weighs where to sign

The Heat have reportedly emerged as front-runners to sign Love, but he wants to talk with the Sixers before signing.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Sixers signed former Miami Heat center Dewayne Dedmon to a rest-of-season contract. They might not be done exploring the buyout market yet, though.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kevin Love has completed a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the Miami Heat have “emerged as leaders” to sign Love, but Woj said he “plans to talk” to the Sixers “before making a decision.”

Love fell out of the Cavaliers’ rotation in recent weeks and is averaging a career-low 8.5 points on 38.9 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds in only 20.0 minutes per game this season. However, he finished as the runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year last season after pouring in 13.6 points on 43.0 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds in only 22.5 minutes per game off the bench.

While the Sixers might have interest in adding the five-time All-Star, the Heat have a few key advantages over them in negotiations.

The Sixers do have the ability to sign Love to a prorated veteran-minimum contract and (barely) stay under the luxury-tax line, but they can’t offer him more than that. They used their entire non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign P.J. Tucker and their full bi-annual exception to sign Danuel House Jr. this past offseason. Meanwhile, the Heat still have roughly $3.1 million of their non-taxpayer MLE remaining, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype, so they could offer Love more than a prorated veteran minimum.

The luxury tax isn’t a concern for Miami, either. The Heat are nearly $4.8 million below the tax line, according to Spotrac, so they could offer Love the remainder of their MLE and still avoid going into tax territory. Love has more than $260 million of career earnings, so the Heat being able to offer him roughly $2.5 million more than the Sixers might not be a deal-breaker from Philly’s perspective, but it likely doesn’t help.

The Heat also have two open roster spots, so they wouldn’t have to waive anyone to sign Love. The Sixers have all 15 of their roster spots filled, which means they would have to waive a player to bring Love in. Unless they’re willing to cut Dedmon within a week of signing him, adding Love would create a difficult decision for the front office to navigate.

Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell would be the two most obvious cut candidates, as the Sixers shouldn’t devote one-third of their roster spots to players who’d largely serve as Joel Embiid’s backups. Reed is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, while Harrell has a $2.8 million player option for the 2023-24 season.

If the Sixers waived Reed, the remainder of his contract for this season would stay on their books unless another team claims him on waivers. If they waived Harrell, they would also have a dead cap hit of $2.8 million on their books next season unless another team claimed him on waivers or he declined his player option before he got waived. (They could stretch that dead cap hit, leaving them with roughly $920,000 of dead money on their books in each of the next three seasons.)

In Philly, Love would be battling with some combination of Reed, Harrell and Dedmon for backup minutes behind Embiid, while Tobias Harris, Georges Niang and P.J. Tucker have the 4 locked down. Miami has been searching for a Tucker replacement ever since he left in July and is thin in the frontcourt behind Caleb Martin and Bam Adebayo. Love would likely be ticketed for a bigger role on the Heat than the Sixers could promise him.

The Sixers arguably can offer Love a better shot at contending for a championship this year than Miami can, though. They’re only three games back of the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the East, while the Heat are currently a half-game behind the sixth-seeded New York Knicks for the final guaranteed playoff spot. If Love signs in South Beach, there’s a non-zero chance that he’d be on vacation by mid-April, while the Sixers should at least find themselves back in the second round before they suffer another soul-crushing defeat. (At least it can’t possibly be worse than Super Bowl LVII?)

Since the Heat can offer Love more money and the promise of a bigger role than the Sixers can, it makes sense that they’re the front-runners to land him. But if Love is prioritizing championship contention above all else, that could give the Sixers an advantage…provided they figure out who to cut in his place.

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball Reference. All salary information via Spotrac or RealGM.

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