At the beginning of the seasons, Bulls fans were once again looking for a star player who might want out and become a trade target later on in the season. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love were the two options that seemed most likely. Then a funny thing happened, the trailblazers became one of the best teams in the west.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love seem like the only two disgruntled stars out there, and there's little point in trading for Carmelo Anthony right before he becomes a free agent. Kevin Love however? There's a possibility there. Kevin Love is pissed at his teammates lack of intensity, the Timberwolves losing ways and never making the playoffs.
The Timberwolves will be forced to trade Love sooner rather than later if they want to maximize their value on the return. While a move at the trade deadline when they have a chance to make the playoffs and possibly turn things around is a stretch, a move this summer if they fall apart seems quite plausible.
Love would have just one more year left before he can opt out, and teams are more likely to give up value for a guy with a season left on his contract rather than a guy who may immediately bolt in free agency afterwards.
The Bulls will conveniently have Carlos Boozer's expiring deal to match Kevin Love's salary quite closely. The Bulls have plenty of sweeteners to make a trade. They have their own draft picks, 2 additional first rounders (Kings, Hornets), or some decent role players (Gibson, Butler). Some combination of those assets seems plausible to get a deal done if Minnesota decides it's time to rebuild.
In any situation like this, Kevin Love will have some power to help direct his next location. If he sends a negative vibe to the team trading for him, saying it's unlikely he'll resign in a year and a half then he may be able to veto a trade. Chicago seems like the exact type of destination that might interest him.
It gets him into the weaker Eastern conference, a team of hard working individuals, and a genuine shot to win the title. IF the trade could be completed with just picks, the Bulls would be left with something like:
PG: Rose, Augustin
SG: Butler, Snell
PF: Love, Gibson, Mirotic
They might possibly ask Mirotic to wait another year (which I believe would end his massive buyout penalty) and instead use that money to fill in one more wing spot for the team. They'd also have the option of bringing back Kirk Hinrich to help fill in at PG/SG as a reserve guy who could swing between those positions.
The team would finally have the inside out star power that they'd hoped Carlos Boozer would provide but didn't. On top of that, Kevin Love could stretch defenses out to the three point line with his shooting allowing a far more dangerous offensive assault and plenty more room for Derrick Rose to drive.
Of course, Mirotic might have to go in the deal, and quite honestly, he might develop into the type of player who gives you a Kevin Love impact all by himself. That said, the Bulls need a shot creator and natural scorer. It's tough to evaluate how European players translate into that role in the NBA simply because the athletic bar to create in the NBA is so much higher and the European game plays so differently.
Mirotic is a tremendous player in Europe, a case could be made that he's the best player in Europe. He's shooting 60% from the three point line in Euroleague this season (though only 32% in the ACB league). His combined percentages from the two leagues still come out to around 58% from the field and 50% from the three point line.
His shot volume and scoring totals are fairly low though, representing the style of European basketball. He averages just over 14 points per game. It'd be a shame to give him up, but if you're serious about running with Derrick Rose, getting Kevin Love is a guy worth taking the chance on. He's also the player who might have enough upside to get Minnesota to do the deal.
Kevin Love is one of those guys the Bulls obviously need. He's a guy who looks likely to demand out soon. Our team looks like a place that'd be good for him to land, and we have the assets to make a reasonable offer for him in trade. It doesn't mean Minnesota will decide to move Love. Their best interest might be to try and put it together one more year and convince him to stay.
It doesn't mean some other team won't trump the Bulls offer, who knows what else is out there? However, a Kevin Love trade looks like one of the things where everyone's interests could be satisfied with a trade. If so, the prime time to make a move would be on draft day this year.