The Philadelphia 76ers were relatively quiet at the NBA Trade deadline, bringing in Jalen McDaniels for Matisse Thybulle. And team President Daryl Morey then signed Dewayne Dedmon on the buyout market. But apparently the team is still interested in making bench upgrades.
One name we had our eye on was former Timberwolves and Cavs forward Kevin Love.
The Sixers have actually had the best offensive rating in the NBA (119 points per 100 possessions) since Dec. 8th, around the time when James Harden returned from injury.
It’s their defensive rating that dipped a bit, down to 11th overall over the same stretch. As of today they have the 6th best offensive and 6th best defensive rating on the season. And those impressive marks come despite some key injuries and absences, as we looked at in our most recent Sixers stock watch.
So the move to jettison out their top wing defender in Thybulle was an intriguing gamble. McDaniels is a better offensive player. But certainly not the disruptive defensive force Thybulle was. So the move further bolsters an already stellar offense, and helps them slip the luxury tax. That wiggle room allows them to be “players” in a thus far lackluster buyout market; but no big names have picked them yet.
After landing McDaniels, the team’s next move was to sign former Heat big man Dedmon. DD hasn’t played yet, Doc Rivers turning to Paul Reed in the last win before the break over the rival Cavaliers.
And speaking of those Cavs, hot on the Sixers tail for 3rd place in the East, they’re the team who bought out their longest tenured player to date, in Love.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Heat were front-runners to land the 2016 NBA champion, but the stretch-four spoke with Philadelphia before making his final decision.
Woj Reporting Saturday:
ESPN Sources: Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a contract buyout. The Miami Heat are a frontrunner to sign Love, but he plans to talk to the Philadelphia 76ers before making a decision. pic.twitter.com/9YKux1Svj2— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 18, 2023
And then the official word came on All-Star Sunday:
Kevin Love intends to join Heat after clearing waivers - via @ESPN App https://t.co/Rwm0rIrZUA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 19, 2023
According to Bobby Marks of ESPN and our own Bryan Toporek, the Heat simply had more to offer.
February 18, 2023
With players such as P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Georges Niang, Paul Reed, and now McDaniels, there was no shortage of front-court players whose minutes might overlap with Love’s. So Doc Rivers probably couldn’t make Love any offers he simply couldn’t refuse.
But his presence as a spot up or pick-and-pop threat next to James Harden for the minutes Joel Embiid takes a rest, inspires a bit more than at least one name that the team might wind up rolling with for crucial minutes down what figures to be a grueling home stretch.
The Heat could offer Love a bigger role and more money than the Sixers could. No surprise he went with them.— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) February 19, 2023
And he’ll get an earlier start on his summer vacation now, too! https://t.co/8UEMtvIQR3
Still, from Morey’s vantage point, the opportunity cost was likely low if it meant cutting a name like Montrezl Harrell or even the recently signed Dedmon.
The Heat knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs last season. If the bracket broke in Philadelphia’s favor and they wound up with a top three seed this season, they might wind up hosting Jimmy Butler and co., currently sitting in 7th place.
We’ll continue to monitor the buyout market.