Carmelo to Bulls? Rose would rather have Kevin Love

carmelo-anthony-knicksEverybody has their eye on Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love this summer. Anthony has chosen to opt out of the final year of his Knicks contract, meaning he can test the free agency waters. Love still has another year to go in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves are trying to trade him so they at least get something before he leaves through free agency next summer. Interestingly enough, these two stars are inadvertently crashing at one destination.

Anthony is very intrigued by the Chicago Bulls at this point, at least for appearances sake. New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence believes that opting out of a contract and making serious inquires about the Bulls could be smoke and mirrors to get the best deal possible in New York. Whether that proves to be the case or not remains to be seen. But by opting out of his final year with the Knicks, Melo has at least put the possibility out there that he could play in Chicago next year.

Not Every Bull is thrilled

One guy who’s been openly campaigning for Carmelo in the Windy City is the team’s center, Joakim Noah. He’s been calling the All-Star small forward in an effort to recruit him to Chicago. However, Anthony has yet to return any of these phone calls, possibly because he was still under contract up until this point.

derrick-rose-bullsIt’s obvious that Noah is doing his best to add another elite scorer to the Chicago lineup. However, if Melo doesn’t end up with the Bulls, Derrick Rose is one player who won’t be throwing in the towel. Here’s a look at what Lawrence wrote about Rose’s opinion regarding Melo:

Noah will be disappointed if it turns out that Anthony uses the Bulls merely to get Dolan to up the Knicks’ offer. But one of his teammates won’t be crushed. Derrick Rose hasn’t called Anthony once and isn’t expected to do any recruiting when the Bulls make their run at the Knicks’ top scorer in free agency.

According to sources close to Kevin Love, Rose’s preference is for the Bulls to work out a deal as soon as possible for Minnesota’s All-Star forward because he sees Love as more of a team player than Anthony. Chicago is in the mix with Golden State for Love, with Boston and Denver considered long shots. If it makes any difference to Melo, Rose has no plans to recruit Love, who is free next summer, either. But the Bulls already know whom he’d really prefer to play with in the future.

What would it take to get Love?

kevin-love-minnesotaThis is the first that we’ve heard of Kevin Love having any ties to the Chicago Bulls. So far, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics have been pursuing him pretty hard through a trade, while several other teams have shown interest. Putting Love alongside Noah and Rose, who’s expected to finally be 100% next season, would be a pretty dangerous combination. But the Timberwolves certainly aren’t giving Love away without getting plenty in return.

So what would Chicago have to give up to get him? Any deal would begin with rising power forward Taj Gibson, who played well in the playoffs last year. The Bulls could also dangle Spanish power forward Nikola Mirotic, whom they have the NBA rights to. Mirotic has top-5 pick value, but the challenge would be convincing him to leave Real Madrid for the cold and foreign confines of Minnesota.

The Celtics and Warriors are also trying to put together enticing packages and land Love in a trade. Boston may not be willing to give up any immediate pieces as attractive as Gibson or Mirotic, but they do have a treasure trove of first-round draft picks, with nine coming in the next five years. GM Danny Ainge has reportedly been working out a scenario for using these picks to get Love. The Warriors have something that Minnesota might be interested in with Klay Thompson, David Lee and a first-round pick. However, Golden State has since had second thoughts about giving up Thompson.

One more team to watch in this frenzy is the Los Angeles Clippers, who Love would really like to play for. It’s hard to imagine who would be dealt in such an arrangement, but speculation has Blake Griffin and another player being swapped for Love and another T-Wolves member.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that none of these scenarios could happen, meaning Minnesota team president and head coach Flip Saunders keeps Love in Minnesota until the trade deadline. This would be awkward for both parties involved because the 6’10” power forward, who averaged 26.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG last season, definitely doesn’t want to be back in Minnesota. But on the other hand, Saunders certainly doesn’t want to get far below market value for a guy who’s quite possibly the NBA’s top power forward.

What’s next for the Chicago Bulls in 2015?

chicago-bulls-20152014 was an odd year for the Chicago Bulls, that’s for sure. They came into the season with championship expectations, but that took a hit when Derrick Rose suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. They then seemed to be conceeding the season when they shipped Luol Deng to the Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Bynum, three future draft picks and cap space.

Interestingly enough, the Bulls actually played better after trading their star small forward and rose up to grab the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed. It was looking good too because they were facing a postseason-inexperienced Wizards squad. Then came a 4-1 series beating that leaves the Bulls with a first-round playoff exit and plenty of questions to answer.

Many of these questions start with Derrick Rose. After a 2011 season where the point guard won the MVP award, he’s since had three injury-plagued seasons in a row. There’s good news lately in that he’s recovered enough to play two-on-two games in practice. However, the Bulls must decide how much stock they can put into the 25-year-old’s knees moving forward.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau also presents another puzzling scenario for the Bulls. He’s definitely a good coach, but even the best have a difficult time dealing with the lofty year-in, year-out expectations put on Chicago. And there have been plenty of rumors that he’s unhappy with the front office and wants out, or the Bulls’ management wants him gone because of the friction. But then again, this team would have a difficult time replacing such a respected coach.

chicago-bulls-boozerOne guy who may not present any questions at all is Carlos Boozer. Although he equally split minutes with Taj Gibson during the regular season, Boozer was often benched in favor of Gibson in the playoff series against Washington. And for good reason too since Gibson averaged 18.2 PPG on 56.1% shooting while Boozer averaged 9.6 PPG on 42.6% shooting. Even worse is how poorly Boozer performed outside of the numbers, continually conceding offensive rebounds and easy buckets during the 4-1 series drubbing. Set to make $16.8 million in 2015, it seems like the Bulls may amnesty him to take $16 million off their salary cap.

Doing so would put Chicago in line to land Carmelo Anthony, one of the prized recruits of this summer’s free agent crop. In fact, many rumors have Anthony seriously considering the Bulls since they have the framework in place to be a championship contender. This team has strong inside players like Joakim Noah and Gibson as well as perimeter shooters like Jimmy Butler and Kirk Heinrich. They just need a go-to star like Anthony to make them a serious contender again.

Of course, the possibility of Rose once again emerging to be this player isn’t totally crazy. But Chicago can’t simply rely on this vision to come true, especially with three straight seasons marred by injury. Signing Anthony takes chance out of the equation and pairs him with an exceptional center in Noah.

carmelo-anthony-1The one roadblock that’s been discussed is money because, even after amnestying Boozer, Chicago would only be able to offer a $16 million starting deal. On the other hand, he opted out of his final year in New York, which would’ve paid $23.3 million, so he could test the market. But based on what he’s been saying lately, money isn’t the issue.

‘I’m going to make money. I have money,” Anthony said. “I’m good if I want to retire right now….As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me. If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete at that level.”

It’s pretty clear that Chicago will do what they can to remain as attractive as possible to Anthony. And if they can land him, they’ll no longer just be a middling East team with a very good center and solid role players.