Why are Bulls suddenly hot on Kevin Love?
Kevin Love to the Bulls doesn't make a ton of sense.
I've talked about this several times before. The clear trend in the NBA is perimeter stars win championships. San Antonio, Miami and Boston were outside-oriented. The Lakers won two titles with the standard, two-star format – one inside (Pau Gasol) and one outside (Kobe Bryant).
Love, Gasol and Joakim Noah on the same roster would give the Bulls a powerful rebounding game, but that hasn't been a championship formula in recent years. Miami won two titles as one of the league's worst rebounding teams.
The unbalanced roster could create issues. Love, Gasol and Noah can't play at the same time, but would be paid roughly $35 million this season. That would leave limited means to add perimeter scorers and if Derrick Rose gets hurt again, the Bulls would be the northern version of the Memphis Grizzlies – good team, but a few shooters short of title contention.
So why did the Bulls intensify efforts to trade for Love this week? Sheridanhoops.com suggested the Bulls have offered Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to Minnesota.
Personally, I don't think this is a great idea. But after doing some research, here's some insight into why the Bulls have taken this path.
One insider described Love as a “rebound date,” pun partially intended. The Bulls felt they were close to having a championship-caliber team when they missed out on Carmelo Anthony. So they'll try to keep that feeling alive by targeting the summer's third-best available player (after LeBron and Carmelo).
If the rumor is true, why offer McDermott and Mirotic in a trade when 3-point shooting is one of the Bulls' biggest weaknesses? This answer requires some faith, but the feeling is Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell can provide enough outside shooting, especially if the big man trio can pull defenders toward the basket.
If the Bulls pulled off this trade, at the very least they'd have two 25-year-old stars – Love and Rose – as a foundation for the future. Maybe they could strike fast and get to the Finals this season, while LeBron James adjusts to a young supporting cast in Cleveland.
The Bulls aren't necessarily trying to keep Love away from the Cavs, but the competition forces them to act quickly. They can't sit back and wait to see how the season unfolds, because Love might be a long-term Cavalier by then.
At the same time, the Cavs are the biggest reason why the Bulls likely won't get Love. If I ran the Timberwolves, I'd pull a Brad Pitt from “Moneyball” move as soon as Cleveland agreed to include Andrew Wiggins in a trade – say “deal” and hang up the phone.
We don't know the exact discussions between either set of teams. Any deal with the Bulls, if it included McDermott or Mirotic, could not be completed for 30 days, because they just signed rookie contracts.
Love has not made the playoffs in six NBA seasons, but he posted impressive numbers this year – 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. More than one-third of his shots came from the 3-point line last season and he shot 37.6 percent from distance.
The "pro Love" argument could be summarized with this one line -- you win with talent.
Maybe a miss here will turn out better in the long run for the Bulls. But Tom Thibodeau and president Michael Reinsdorf have decided Love is worth their best effort.