The question has been asked whether you'd throw in Joakim Noah to get Kevin Love, and though Noah's probably my favorite Bull right now, if you want to win basketball games, the answer is yes.
A package with Noah in it would have to give less of everything else, but in the end, if it was Love + Martin for Noah + Mirotic? I'm still in. There are two essential problems with this trade that fans will have:
First, there's a strong emotional attachment to Joakim Noah as well there should be given he's the emotional leader of the team. However, emotional attachment shouldn't get in the way of making a quality basketball decision. Noah's 29 and a half now with a game that depends largely on athleticism, he's unlikely to be much of a player in three years.
Kevin Love is three and a half years younger and even with an opt in to his contract and a five year max on top of that would leave him at 32 years old when he's a free agent. He'll have no bad years due to age and still has another six to seven years left in his prime vs three or so for Noah.
He also seems more likely to age well as athleticism isn't nearly as big a component of his game, so losing a half step won't make nearly as big an impact on what he's able to do or not do.
From a purely business perspective this is probably the best time you'll ever find to sell high on Noah and getting Kevin Love for him would accomplish that.
Second, Noah's contract is considerably less than what Love's is. After Love gets a max deal, you're effectively paying Noah + Mirotic the same amount that Kevin Love is earning. Seems like an overpayment. The problem with that is that defensively Gibson gives you as much as Noah does, and offensively, Noah's gifts become less important on a team with other quality offensive players.
He's a gifted ball handler for his size and one of the best passing big men in the NBA, but he still doesn't have much of a scoring game and without one those other skills have limited value on a team that does have scorers and won't put the ball in his hands as much. Noah's defense will still be invaluable for the Bulls, but his offensive strengths will be minimized as the Bulls improve the overall team.
There should be no question who the more valuable of these two players is. It's Kevin Love by a whole heck of a lot. Throwing in Nikola Mirotic then helps add value as well as taking back Kevin Martin's bad contract.
The thing with Martin is that his contract is bad more so on the fear of what might happen over three seasons rather than his actual performance. Martin's 31 and a half years old with three years remaining on his modest deal that pays him about seven million per season for the next three years.
Last season he was scoring over 21 points per 36 minutes on a TS% over 55%. That's really damn good. It's really, really damn good for a guy making seven million. He adds little to the team other than offense, but the Bulls could use a guy with his exact skillset.
They'd have to hope he doesn't fall off the cliff at 32 that so many players fall off, but even with some decline he's probably worth that deal for at least two of the three seasons, and seven million isn't some radical overpayment. Martin's a guy who's probably a negative to Minnesota at this point but wouldn't be one to Chicago.
From a salary perspective the Bulls pick up a little money in this deal (five million) and put themselves on a path to commit to a whole lot more when Love needs a new deal. However, when you have a guy who's worth the max paying him the max isn't a problem and shouldn't be looked at like one.
While there's virtually no chance a Love trade goes down for Chicago, and likely even less of a chance that if one does it includes Joakim Noah, if the Bulls could throw in Joakim and land Love, then it should be done. You get younger and better with the deal, it's really hard to pull that off.
That said, the Timberwolves probably won't get hung up on wanting Noah. Taj Gibson's a better fit for their roster and will cost them less money as well so in that sense Bulls fans needn't worry.
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