November 23, 2014
The NBA is one game into the conference finals, and the Bulls continue to lead the league in splashy offseason rumors.
Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love reportedly has told the team that he won’t be signing a contract extension when his deal is up after next season and that the Bulls and Golden State Warriors would be ideal destinations if they want to trade him.
The fact the Bulls were mentioned is no surprise, especially considering Love’s longtime friendship with Derrick Rose.
So while Joakim Noah is busy trying to persuade Carmelo Anthony to opt out of his deal with the New York Knicks and join him in Chicago, it would seem the Bulls now have a Plan B.
The question is, which player would be a better fit?
Love: He is signed through next season at $15.7 million and has a player option worth $16.7 million for 2015-16. Basically, Carlos Boozer money. The problem with Love, 25, is that he might want to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers when he becomes a free agent.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson would have to get some sort of commitment from Love if they are going to dance with the Timberwolves in a trade. And that trade wouldn’t come cheaply.
Anthony: The only thing the Bulls need to know from Anthony, 29, is his asking price. The score-first, ask-questions-later forward has said he is tired of losing, but would he forfeit close to $7 million a year over the next four seasons for that alone? Anthony never has shown an unselfishness in his decision-making on or off the court, so this would be a first.
Best for the Bulls: Anthony, provided he would settle for $14 million a year to chase a legacy.
ON THE COURT
Love: Love would be the ideal kick-out target for Rose because of his ability to stretch the floor and would be interchangeable with Noah in the high-post game because of his ability to pass and play down low.
Anthony: He has a reputation as a ball-stopper. But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out that when Anthony played with a talented roster as a member of Team USA, he showed he could be a playmaker when needed. Great scorers figure it out.
Best for the Bulls: Love is nice, but Anthony is lethal.
Love: After playing in 81 games as a rookie, Love hasn’t been the most durable soldier. He has averaged only 56.6 games in the last five seasons and never has sniffed playoff basketball.
He has had some diva moments with the Timberwolves, but the friendship with Rose can’t be overlooked.
Anthony: He has seen his share of great playoff moments — in the first round. He already has had his big paydays and has insisted the last few months that it’s all about the ring. It’s time to test that.
Best for the Bulls: Love fits, but there are too many unknowns. The Bulls likely would have to part with Boozer and his expiring contract, at least one of their two first-round draft picks next month and the rights to power forward Nikola Mirotic to acquire him in a trade. Then what happens when he is eligible for free agency after next season?
Anthony, meanwhile, seems desperate to hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s hard to overlook. If the price is right, get Anthony and get out of the way.