Chasing superstars at all costs only makes sense to a point. The deal the Chicago Bulls have reportedly offered the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, would do more harm than good.
Here's the rumored offer:
It made total sense for the Bulls to pull out all the stops in pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. The Bulls were a team in desperate need of a lights-out scorer, and that's exactly what Anthony is. Melo is a player who needs to add some versatility to his game—much like Paul Pierce did when he was joined by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with the Boston Celtics.
Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach on that team and the mastermind of its vaunted defense.
The transformation in The Truth's game helped push him to the next level as an NBA star. Had Melo come to the Bulls, that same thing might have happened for him.
We'll never know now.
The Bulls had an excellent Plan B for retooling the team. It was headed up by the addition of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and trading up to take Doug McDermott with the 11th pick in the draft.
That plan was augmented by the addition of scoring point guard Aaron Brooks and the re-signing of Kirk Hinrich. We don't even have to talk about the return of former league MVP Derrick Rose, who is still just 25 years old.
Yeah, I know his health will forever be a concern, but he appears to be healthy, and that's all anyone can go on until something changes.
Even if Rose were to go down again, the Bulls' current roster is better equipped to handle its superstar's absence than the previous two. Don't look now, but the depth chart goes at least 11 deep on paper.
It's clear the strength of the squad is depth.
The added depth came without sacrificing the team's defensive identity. Chicago got the shooting it needed and now boasts unprecedented versatility at four positions. If the team sends Mirotic, McDermott and Taj Gibson to Minnesota for Love, it will sacrifice that identity and its depth.
Gone would be two bigs (Mirotic and Gibson) with varying skill sets that give Thibodeau weapons to attack teams in different ways off his bench. Gone would be a young, team-first, dead-eye long-range shooter in McDermott. He has the look of a more skilled version of Kyle Korver.
The average age of the three players rumored to be offered is just 24.6. The 29-year-old Gibson would be the elder statesman of the group, but don't underestimate what his absence would mean.
Gibson's defense, athleticism and energy would be sorely missed. He helped to give the Bulls bench an identity last season, and he will do the same thing for the unit next season—given the chance.
Would the Bulls be good with Love? Absolutely.
After all, he is a 25-year-old stud who was fourth in the NBA in scoring in 2013-14 at 26.1 points per game and third in rebounding at 12.5 per contest. He also made 37.6 percent of his threes. Love is a stretch 4 in a Superman costume, but he didn't impact his team's bottom line enough to push it to a winning record, let alone the playoffs.
As a matter of fact, Love has never been to the postseason in his six-year career.
Anthony didn't take his team to the playoffs, either, and there are definite questions as to whether he makes those around him better, but the Bulls would not have had to sacrifice as much to acquire him.
The most important detail of all is that Gibson would have stayed. Because Love and Anthony aren't good defenders, the Bulls couldn't afford to lose one of their best defenders to add them.
The beauty of the addition of Gasol and the subtraction of Carlos Boozer was that the Bulls kept offensive production—if not increased it—and improved defensively. Gasol is longer, more active and has a better history as an effective team defender.
Plugging Love in at the 4 would be a definite downgrade to the defense and a slap in the face to the newly acquired Gasol and Mirotic. The last thing Chicago needs to be doing is further damaging its reputation with potential free agents. The team has the hardest time getting players to sign as it is.
Mirotic is clearly happy to be a Bull. If the rumored trade went through, he'd be headed to Minnesota, which is not what he signed up for.
Quite obviously Gasol would be the one headed to the bench. He couldn't be happy with that scenario.
That dynamic brings up another reason why the trade would make no sense for the Bulls to make. Let's take a look at the total salary that would be dedicated to the Bulls' primary bigs for next season alone.
Salaries per Spotrac
The Bulls would have over $35 million in annual salary sunk into three players they could never have on the floor at the same time. There's no scenario that would allow Love to play small forward effectively against any team. So don't even think about that.
Sometimes it's better to simply watch the commotion from afar. Is this about playing "keep Love away from the Cleveland Cavaliers," as Bleacher Report's Kelly Scaletta mentions?
I can't help but wonder if the prospect of the Cavs having Love and James isn't part of the reason the Bulls are getting back in the running— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) July 23, 2014
If so, that's silly.
The Cavaliers seem ready to unwisely mortgage their future to chase Kevin Love. Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and as many as two first-round picks are being dangled in front of the Timberwolves to lure Love.
The ceilings of Wiggins and Bennett—yes Bennett—are too high to ship away for Love.
Cleveland should allow its young core to jell with James before looking to break it up. However, if the Cavs are that much in love with Love that they are willing to deal two No. 1 overall picks, the Bulls would be wise to let them have him.
Chicago will be better for it in the long run.
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