It’s late July, free agency is on its last legs with only a few signings of significance remaining that could transpire. So naturally, the time to fire up the Kevin Love to the Chicago Bulls rumors couldn’t be more appropriate. To briefly give you a timeline: Love, the disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves superstar power forward has made his desire to be traded and discontent with Timberwolves’ management public for a few months now. Only about a month ago the Bulls were engaging in trade talks with Minnesota, and during that time Chicago’s own superstar Derrick Rose spoke on his preference to play with Love as a teammate over then free agent Carmelo Anthony.
The Bulls were initially linked to Minnesota due to their potential trade offer containing appealing players and assets for Minnesota to work with in exchange for Love, a top ten NBA talent. The proposition from Chicago was to send guard Jimmy Butler, forward Taj Gibson, and multiple first-round draft picks to Minnesota (note: this was before the draft, when the Bulls had the #14 and #16 picks). Not to mention the Bulls’ dangled Serb Nikola Mirotic along the way.
The Wolves weren’t ready to move in June and so then the NBA draft happened and the Bulls traded an arm-and-a-leg for Doug McDermott. Then free agency came and went and the Bulls didn’t sign Carmelo Anthony; instead they signed players like Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks to deepen their roster, especially in the frontcourt. Without Love or Melo, the Bulls’ strategy appeared to compensate by bulking up their frontline.
But now, in July, the circumstances surrounding Love-to-Chicago have greatly changed. As you may have heard (if you haven’t, you may want to sit down cause this is pretty big news) LeBron James returned to Cleveland and then LeBron proceeded to persuade the Cavaliers front office to inquire about Love’s pending availability. Love agreed to play in Cleveland, and now Minnesota is trying to drive-up the price on Love (i.e. the rumors).
Cleveland has considerably more to entice Minnesota as a trade partner than Chicago does. In fact, it’s hard to believe Minnesota could get much better of a get than what Cleveland can offer. Andrew Wiggins (2014 #1 overall pick), Anthony Bennett (2013 #1 overall pick), both on rookie contracts and under team control for up to seven and six more years respectively AND future first-rounder’s to sweeten the pot even more.
But what’s also of pretty big importance here: the Cavs are on the verge of Wiggins, restricting their ability to trade the hyped rookie for 30 days. So essentially when Wiggins does sign with the Cavs, a stalemate or somewhat of a lame duck period between Cleveland and Minnesota will occur for 30 days, and no trade involving Wiggins can be executed for at least a month (think the rumors are out-of-hand now?).
That’s why the timing of Chicago emerging as a player in the Love sweepstakes again is so comical. What’s going on here is that the Timberwolves are facing pressure from Cleveland because Cleveland has all the leverage while negotiating. Cleveland doesn’t have to succumb to any of Minnesota’s wants or demands because even if Minnesota doesn’t blink and holds on to Kevin Love for the 2014-2015, Love’s made clear he will not re-sign with the team and intends to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
There’s absolutely no reason to believe the Bulls are seriously contemplating a “renewed push” for Love, when you consider this fact: how is the push “renewed” when the offer has remained the same? What changed? The offer of Butler, Gibson, and as the ESPN story yesterday fabricated as “other assets” is no different than the offer reported a month ago. And then today, supposedly Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic have been added to the proposal. So, one guy the Bulls have waited three-plus years to sign and bring overseas, the other they traded three first round picks to obtain, and now they’re available? Not buying it.
But, for the sake of hypothetical – say Minnesota has altered its stance on Gibson and Butler and these other miscellaneous moving parts, would trading two of your three best defensive players and Tom Thibodeau favorites be wise of Chicago? Not to undermine Love’s greatness, he’s a remarkable talent and actually not as egregious and unforgivably bad a defender as he’s made out to be (but he’s not a rim-protector which is the biggest and most legitimate gripe). But without Butler’s defense on the perimeter, and Taj’s all-around contribution Chicago is giving up two integral parts to their success. Would Love’s scoring and rebounding recover or illuminate Butler and Gibson’s value on the floor to the Bulls? Probably the latter.
Every team can use or need a guy like Kevin Love, but sometimes the situation dictates an unpopular reality. There was a time and place where Kevin Love realistically could of landed in Chicago, and that time was in June when Chicago still had free agency and the draft in front of them and not behind them. Chicago would’ve attacked free agency entirely different, like the two-guard position that would be vacant in Butler's absence. Instead, now if Butler’s traded – who guards LeBron, Melo, Paul George, DeMar DeRozan, or Bradley Beal?
Personally, the usual stance on this would be to trade for a star whenever you can get a star – but not this particular time. Not right now. Chicago’s roster would be so lopsided, it’d be uneven. The moves Chicago’s made this offseason have not been a byproduct of an underlying desire for Love, they’ve been a vote of confidence in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and most importantly this forthcoming season, in Tom Thibodeau.
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