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Carmelo, Kevin Love or bust — Bulls going all in for a title

Updated: June 24, 2014 1:20PM



Every interview, every rumor, every Instagram post carries weight these days.

All to be examined ad nauseam like some sort of hieroglyphic that will sort the mysteries of this NBA offseason universe.

For the Bulls, however, it’s very simple: Everything has been pushed on the table in an all-or-nothing attempt to add a companion to six lonely trophies that have been collecting dust since 1998.

Yes, there is a small scent of desperation, especially since the Summer of Lebron in 2010 left the Bulls with only a consolation prize in Carlos Boozer, but that definitely hasn’t deterred the franchise from again attempting to go big this offseason.

Coach Tom Thibodeau often says “This is a make or miss league.’’ But for the Bulls, they have seemingly reached the point where there is no longer room for misses.

‘Melo drama

Welcome to Plan A for the Bulls, as the courting of now free agent, Carmelo Anthony, started back in February at the All-Star Game, with center Joakim Noah selling the seven-time All-Star in exploring the idea of wearing the red and black.

What we know: Anthony officially opted out of his Knicks deal on Monday, looking to test the market. The forward has reportedly done his research on life in Chicago for not only himself, but his family. It’s been a two-way street, with multiple sources telling the Sun-Times that Thibodeau has made numerous calls to Anthony’s former coaches to find out what makes the elite scorer tick, and despite being warned by one former coach that Anthony’s defense could lead to Thibodeau’s head exploding, the 2011 Coach of the Year remains confident he can make it work.

What we don’t know: What’s Anthony’s asking price? There have been conflicting reports on that, as Anthony indicated during the season that money doesn’t buy a legacy, and it was that legacy he was chasing. Then there were whispers that he wants big money. That will definitely be tested if the Bulls are a landing spot. A maximum contract to re-sign with New York can go as high as $129 million over five years, while $96 million over four years is what every other team can offer. The Bulls can afford about $12 million for the first year of the contract. Then there’s Derrick Rose, who is good friends with Kevin Love. Sources indicated that Rose was initially cool on Anthony over Love, but has since changed his stance.

Best-case scenario: Anthony is a man of his word, and can live comfortably off endorsement money, plus the pay-cut he would take to play with Noah and Rose.

Bulls nightmare: Anthony drags the process on while good friend LeBron James makes “The Decision 2.0,’’ using the Bulls before eventually leaving them empty-handed to team with James.

Falling out of Love

Two weeks ago, several sources indicated that the Bulls had the best offer on the table for the Minnesota Timberwolves to deal Kevin Love. A lot can happen in two weeks.

What we know: Rose not only has a strong friendship with Love, but the two are workout partners. Love wants to play for a winner, and indicated that the Bulls were one of the places he would like to land if Minnesota does trade him. After initially being reluctant in moving Taj Gibson, a source indicated during the Finals that only Rose was untouchable, and that’s because the often-injured guard has a contract no one wants to touch.

What we don’t know: Reports out of Minnesota have the Timberwolves back and forth on if they want to move Love before the start of the season, or even on draft night. Also, for any team to acquire Love they need to know what his asking price is after he can opt out of his contract next season.

Best-case scenario: The Bulls move picks 16 and 19 to Minnesota, along with Gibson and Tony Snell. Playing with Rose is more important than a max deal for Love, so he inks an extension for $14 million a year, allowing the Bulls to still add pieces.

Bulls nightmare: Golden State ups the ante, Love goes to the Bay, and Steve Kerr holds up a trophy before Thibodeau.

Depth charge

As the Spurs showed in the Finals in beating Miami, a deep bench is never a bad thing. The NBA is a copycat league, and with the Bulls severely short-handed the past few years, well, more bodies are definitely required.

What we know: Arron Afflalo is on the trade radar for a draft pick, and Nikola Mirotic is in Spain, waiting to see if this is the year he plays in the NBA. D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich could be cheap back-up options, while there are a handful of solid free agents that can give Thibodeau a much deeper team.

What we don’t know: With James, Anthony and even Chris Bosh all unknowns, would going the depth route even be good enough to overcome a roster with three superstars on it? At least in the Eastern Conference it hasn’t worked yet.

Best-case scenario: Afflalo is acquired for a pick, the Bulls add Adreian Payne with their other pick, Mirotic waits one more season, while Shawn Marion and Devin Harris come on the cheap thanks to Boozer being amnestied.

Bulls nightmare: Big-name free agents go elsewhere, middle-name free agents aren’t interested, and on opening night 2014-15, Bulls fans have to hear Boozer yell “Gimme dat!’’ on the first rebound he grabs. And yes, he’s still in a Bulls uniform.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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