Kevin Love and Taj Gibson are two very different players. One is a three-time NBA All-Star and a juggernaut on the offensive end, while the other comes off the bench and is valued for his terrific defense.
But the two players also share a couple similarities. They both play the power forward position and, more importantly, could be on the move this summer.
Here is the latest buzz on each.
Will Kevin Love join the Celtics?
Kevin Love has made it clear that he doesn’t want to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although the Timberwolves have increased their win total each year since the 2009-2010 season—and Love is a major reason why—the team has not reached the postseason since Kevin Garnett led the team to the 2004 Western Conference Finals.
Love wants to play for a contender, and despite Minnesota’s upward trend, he would prefer to play for a team that has better players and is closer to a championship.
The Timberwolves have been resistant to trade their star player, but Love can opt out of his contract at the conclusion of next season and no team wants to lose its star player for nothing. By trading the All-Star, Minnesota would at least get something in return, and ESPN’s Chad Ford (subscription required) says the Boston Celtics could provide the best offer:
But I continue to get strong signals that the Celtics are trying hard to use pick No. 6 and 17 along with future No. 1s and young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk to persuade the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade them Kevin Love. One source close to the Wolves said that while Flip Saunders does not want to trade Love, he realizes the team likely will lose him this summer and the package the Celtics are offering is probably the best he's going to get. Given the strength of the draft, picks 6, 13 and 17 could land them three young starters to help them rebuild their roster quickly.
It makes sense that the Celtics would throw the kitchen sink at Love. He’s worth it. Last year the power forward averaged an eye-popping 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. He has averaged well over a double-double five years in a row, and he was close during his rookie season (11.1 points, 9.1 rebounds).
Love is just 25 years old and will be in his prime for at least five or six more years. He is an incredibly valuable asset and one Boston hopes to pair with its star point guard Rajon Rondo. Although Rondo has made it known he is at least intrigued by free agency—his contract expires this time next year—the thought of teaming up with Love is an attractive one and perhaps could keep Rondo in Boston.
Combining Rondo’s exquisite ability to pass with Love’s ability to score in the paint and hit the three-pointer would give the Celtics a terrific building block to field a competitive team, so long as the team doesn’t hamstring its roster too much in the process.
Taj Gibson out, All-Star in?
Taj Gibson is an extremely valued commodity for the Chicago Bulls. He is an excellent defender off the bench, even though he played more like a starter last year. While he only started eight games last season, he logged the fourth-most minutes on the team. He also has shown he is more than just a dunker, even though his dunks can be mighty impressive.
Last season, Gibson averaged a career-high 13 points per game and had the highest field-goal percentage of any of the Bulls’ regular contributors (47.9 percent). He is showing he can be an effective two-way player, which is undoubtedly an attractive characteristic.
But the Bulls have made it known they want to revamp their roster by adding a superstar player to join Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, even if that means parting with Gibson, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Carmelo Anthony is still Plan A as the Bulls and the rest of the NBA await to see if the Knicks forward will opt out of his contract. But the Bulls are more active in their pursuit of Kevin Love than initially rumored. Also, don’t rule out LeBron James coming into play again if the four-time MVP opts out of his deal.
After the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs, the Sun-Times reported that Joakim Noah not only actively recruited Anthony at the All-Star Game, but he stayed on him throughout the second half of the season. The catch was that Noah didn’t want teammate Taj Gibson sacrificed to bring Anthony over.
The front office agreed with Noah, but according to a source, that grip might have loosened if it means adding a proven All-Star-caliber player.
Although Gibson is a key reason why the Bulls have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA since Tom Thibodeau was hired in 2010, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chicago would be willing to part with him if it meant acquiring a top-10 player in the league. The team has already lost a couple years of championship contention due to Rose's injuries and adding Anthony, Love or James would obviously improve the team dramatically.
In a weak Eastern Conference, the Bulls could reign atop the standings for the foreseeable future.
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