The Bulls are rumored to be in trade talks for Kevin Love, and always will be until he’s traded to the Cavaliers or the Warriors.
Yes, that’s the pessimist in me because this has been going on for two years or so and Love still hasn’t come to the Bulls. That’s the way things go with the Bulls in the trade/free-agency market, and this seems like another opportunity for the Bulls to get used the way they did in Carmelo Anthony’s “Dig Me, Pay Me’’ tour.
The Bulls’ reported offer of Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott for the Timberwolves’ star power forward is solid enough that some observers consider it the best the Timberwolves could do if they want to avoid putting garbage on the floor, although that has never bothered that franchise before.
But LeBron James wants Love in Cleveland and doesn’t care if it costs the Cavaliers No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves want 6-7 shooting guard Klay Thompson, who averaged 18.4 points a game for the Warriors.
It’s all rumors right now. The Bulls might be pressing the action to drive up the price for the new Central Division power in Cleveland. Or the Bulls might be serious a bout acquiring the kind of stretch four they’ve never had in a league that is perimeter crazy.
Whatever the truth, there are buckets and McBuckets of reasons the Bulls must complete this trade, and here are your starting five:
1. The Bulls need to make a big deal in which they get the best player who happens to be one of the best scorers in the league. The team that gets the best player wins the trade the way the Celtics swiped Kevin Garnett from the Bulls’ clutches the last time the Timberwolves held a big-man yard sale. The Bulls need a win after all those second-place finishes in trade/free-agency market.
2. The Bulls need to change their thinking. The Bulls have tried to make depth a star. They have tried to make their defense a star. How has that worked out when they came up against teams with multiple scorers? The Bulls have died, that’s how it has worked out. The Bulls’ effort, bless them, left them for dead after being forced to play so much defense so hard for so long because they had fewer scoring options than big-boy teams.Tom Thibodeau seems surprisingly open to the idea of coaching defensively challenged players if they can score. See Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol for details.
3. Stars win in the NBA. It’s a rigged game the benefitted the Bulls in the 1990s. Bulls management in the 2010s gets it, but has failed to make it happen. This is a chance to change that. Love is a star. Nobody else in the deal is even a starter. Acquiring Love would give the Bulls a so-called but wobbly “Big Three’’ that includes Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Or a “Big 3½’’ depending on Gasol’s rotation minutes. It’s not what the champion Spurs have. It’s not what the Eastern Conference champion Heat used to have. But it’s better than hearing Rose say he’s rolling with Keith Bogans.
4. The Bulls need to stop over-valuing their own players. The Bulls need to teach that to their fans, as well. Listen, the Bulls don’t have an untouchable player. Not the injury-prone Rose. Not offensively challenged Noah. The talk you hear about Gibson makes you think he’s Kevin Garnett. No, he’s a bench player, period. McDermott and Mirotic, who knows? They’ve never played in the NBA. Love has. He’s just 25 with six years NBA experience. He averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds a game last season. That’s twice the scoring Gibson gives you and almost double the rebounds, and remember, Gibson is four years older and has never earned a starting spot. Love can hit the NBA three-pointer. Maybe McDermott and Mirotic will, but that’s still a maybe, and I’m taking the sure thing.
5. The Bulls need to keep Love away from the Cavaliers, because if Love gets traded to Cleveland, this Eastern Conference has just crowned a new champion. Maybe not a new NBA champion because the East is still the JV, but the conference the Bulls play in would be decided. Beep, beep, drive home safely.