ESPN reported yesterday that the Bulls have renewed interest in Kevin Love and are making a late push to complete a trade. The Bulls offer, believed to be some combination of Taj + Jimmy + other stuff seems more likely to be Minnesota simply trying to push Cleveland than Chicago making any genuine push.
Sources say that the Bulls, though, have re-entered the race and would appear to be the biggest threat to the Cavs thanks largely to the Golden State Warriors' resolute unwillingness to add longtime Wolves target Klay Thompson in any deal.
Although the full extent of the Bulls' offer wasn't immediately known, it is believed Minnesota would seek a package from Chicago featuring forward Taj Gibson and defensive ace Jimmy Butler in addition to other assets. The Bulls shelved their Love interest while trying to sign Carmelo Anthony away from the New York Knicks but, according to sources, have re-emerged as contenders.
So that's the news, but this is so obviously a bunch of crap leaked by Minnesota in order to pressure the Cavaliers that it's not worth mentioning. The Bulls should definitely give up Jimmy + Butler + a couple 1sts for Love if it will get the job done, but it won't.
The reason is Andrew Wiggins. No matter what the Bulls give up, it doesn't equal Andrew Wiggins. Andrew Wiggins has superstar potential, and while I'm not the biggest fan of Wiggins and doubt his ability to get there, he still has superstar potential. No franchise turns down a guy like that for a couple of role players and picks that project to be pedestrian.
Especially a team in Minnesota's position.
Minnesota's potential trade of Kevin Love will probably net the best return in recent memory for a superstar. For the most part, teams who have a prospect such as Wiggins aren't ever willing to trade him for an established star simply because of the salaries, and their inability to win immediately.
The Cavaliers are in the opposite position, and it's a rare position indeed. With LeBron going there on effectively a one year deal, he's putting an amazing amount of pressure on them to win immediately. He's said he wants to get Kevin Love. He's failed to mention Andrew Wiggins in his letter to Cleveland fans.
Cleveland seems willing to accommodate the king, and given that he probably just raised their revenue by 50 million dollars by coming this summer, I'd suggest that's a pretty fair thing to do. His request isn't ridiculous either. LeBron James isn't old, but he's not a young guy either. He probably can't wait around three years for Wiggins to mature.
Even if/when Wiggins does, he's a questionable fit next to LeBron anyway given their best fit is in the same position and he's not a three point shooter. All of this leaves the Timberwolves in the catbird seat.
They're the team with a superstar demanding out, but somehow, they've lucked themselves into a situation where there's a suitor with only one meaningful asset to offer that has more pressure to do so than them, and might actually overpay for Love in the long run. Thus, instead of taking the package and running, they've tried to extract even more from Cleveland.
If I'm the Cavs, I simply hold firm on an offer of Wiggins and salary filler for Love. If Minnesota tells me they prefer Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson to that, I tell them to go ahead. It's a bunch of crap. No front office guy would ever prefer that. Nor would anyone prefer Klay Thompson even if the Warriors were willing to include him.
You really want Klay Thompson on a max deal in a season rather than Andrew Wiggins? That's simply crazy talk. Thompson's a good player who will get the max, and you won't feel awful about it, but you won't feel great about it either. At any rate, the pressure on Cleveland appears to have them cracking.
They're willing to dump Bennett, Wiggins, and a #1 for Love already. If this isn't enough to get a deal done, then Minnesota is just set on keeping Love. They won't get more. They should be thanking their lucky stars they'll get that much.
As for the Bulls? Sure, Kevin Love would look great in a Bulls uniform. Gibson + Mirotic [not mentioned] + Butler + Snell for Love + Martin would seem to be the Bulls best possible offer.
That'd leave them with something like this:
PG: Rose, Hinrich, Brooks
Wings: Martin, McDermott, Dunleavy
Bigs: Noah, Gasol, Love, Bairstow
The Bulls would need to find some new wing players in this scenario, particularly someone who could play some defense, but with the playing time potential opening up, they could probably be successful in doing so. Such a change would turn the Bulls from a defensive powerhouse into an offensive one overnight.
A starting lineup likely looks like: Rose + Martin + Dunleavy/McDermott + Love + Noah. That's three great outside shooters along with Rose and Noah? They'd be extraordinarily difficult to stop. It's a team with best offense in the league potential that just needs defense coached up but has the best defensive coach in the NBA.
The Bulls should put that offer on the table (they could swap Snell for Dunleavy if they really believe in him and want his defense), but it's about the best they can do, but if I'm the Timberwolves, I say thanks for driving up the offer price then go ahead and take Andrew Wiggins.
Chris Sheridan says the Bulls offer is Gibson + Mirotic + McDermott (not far off my guess). I don't think this changes anything, Minnesota still goes with Wiggins, but if true, it certainly looks like the Bulls are going all in to try.
Any Bulls trade would need to wait 30 days from the signings of McDermott/Mirotic, but that's more or less irrelevant in the off-season.
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