The Cavaliers announced on Sunday that Kevin Love has been ruled out of Tuesday’s contest against the Timberwolves because of soreness and swelling in his left knee. An MRI was conducted as part of the evaluation, but a team source told ESPN, “we’re not discussing that yet.”
That doesn’t sound so great, and since Love is scheduled to play in next weekend’s All-Star Game, here are seven players who could potentially replace him if he’s forced to miss the exhibition due to injury.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid was the only true snub in the East, and he’d be a logical choice to replace Love — if he wasn’t injured himself. Embiid was supposed to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend, but that’s unlikely now that he’s been diagnosed with a torn meniscus. Embiid leads all rookies in scoring with 20.2 points per game, to go along with 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per game this season.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
It’s been a rough season in New York for Carmelo Anthony, between trade rumors, Phil Jackson’s mind games, and all of the losing. An All-Star nod would be a nice reward for Anthony, who’s still a stud on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 23.2 points per game on the season.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
If Melo would rather take a midseason vacation, his Knicks frontcourt mate would be another fine choice. Porzingis is averaging 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots, and finished just behind Love in the weighted voting totals for the starters in the East.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
The Golden State Warriors may be 46-8 this season, but the Miami Heat are the ones with the longest winning streak in the league this season at 13 straight. Hassan Whiteside has been a big part of that recent success, leading the league in rebounding with 14 boards per game while also averaging a career-best 16.8 points.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
Goran Dragic is the engine that makes the Heat go, and if the league doesn’t insist on replacing Love with a frontcourt player, he’d be a fine choice. Dragic is averaging 20.3 points and 6.4 assists, while shooting 44.2 percent from three-point distance.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
The Wizards are 16-3 over their past 19 games, and the play of Bradley Beal alongside John Wall is a big reason why. He poured in 41 points in Washington’s overtime loss to the Cavaliers earlier this week, and is averaging a career-best 22.3 points per game.
Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls
Dwyane Wade is having a respectable statistical season, but if the commissioner selects him in the event Love needs to be replaced, the decision would be about giving the fans what they want. Wade is a future Hall of Famer, and finished second in the fan voting behind only Kyrie Irving among guards in the East.