Chicago came into this offseason seeking another big name to pair with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and former MVP Derrick Rose. They went hard after dynamic scorer Carmelo Anthony, but he chose to stay with the New York Knicks. They kicked the tires on Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, but he stayed put as well.
With many of the Bulls' options now off the market, the team's last shot is joining the frenzy for Love's services. The Love saga has gone on for what feels like an eternity, and the sweepstakes has come down to the Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst, the Cavs are the front-runners to land the All-Star power forward. Cleveland's offer centers around this year's No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, according to USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt. Other names, such as last year's top pick Anthony Bennett, could be added to the deal as well.
Signals emanating from Cleveland are clear that Cavs think they'll ultimately construct a trade framework Minnesota will accept for KLove— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 22, 2014
The Timberwolves would like to strike a deal with the Warriors, but Golden State is unwilling to let go of shooting guard Klay Thompson, per San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami. Until the Dubs are willing to move from that stance, they are considered longshots to bring the former UCLA star back to California.
Second NBA source: The Warriors have no plans to offer Klay Thompson to Minnesota, even if CLE comes in aggressively for Kevin Love.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 11, 2014
But again, these are negotiations and the Warriors want to remain in the Love discussions. Things can change.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 11, 2014
As for the Bulls, their reported offer may not have the star power of an Andrew Wiggins or a Klay Thompson, but it's still solid. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls have made a late push and offered a package that includes power forward Taj Gibson and rookie Doug McDermott.
Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com added that prized international prospect Nikola Mirotic has been added to the proposed offer as well.
The Chicago Bulls have offered a package of Taj Gibson and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star forward Kevin Love, a league source told SheridanHoops.com. The source said he believed the Bulls’ offer was better in the minds of the Wolves than the Cavs’ current offer of Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick. But if Cleveland is willing to include a second future first-round pick – it owns the rights to Miami’s first-rounder as well as Memphis’ in 2015 – that might be enough to trump Chicago’s offer.
Given that Wiggins, McDermott and Mirotic all signed their contracts recently, a trade can't be completed until 30 days after they signed. That means another month of Love rumors for everybody.
Even with Chicago's latest offer, Cleveland holds the trump card. Wiggins is the best player on the table, and the Cavs could still add in someone like Tristan Thompson as well as draft picks, if they are feeling desperate.
It's actually a bit interesting that Chicago is interested in Love in the first place. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is a defensive guru, and Love's defense is non-existent. That's why each reported offer has Minnesota receiving someone with defensive chops (Wiggins, Gibson, Thompson) in return.
Sure, Love is an elite rebounder and scorer (and the Bulls did get by with a lackluster defender in Carlos Boozer), but you have to wonder how Thibs will compensate for Love's matador defense. Of course, that becomes a moot point if Cleveland ends up with Love.
Assuming the Cavs win the Love sweepstakes, the question becomes: where do the Bulls go from here? On paper, they have a very good roster that could be a title contender in a suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference.
If Derrick Rose can stay healthy (a huge if), Chicago will trot out two potential MVP candidates (Noah being the other) along with a supporting cast that includes Gibson, McDermott, Mirotic, newly-signed big man Pau Gasol and defensive maven Jimmy Butler. The case can be made that Chicago doesn't even need a third star.
However, if the Bulls are focused on adding another big name after losing out on 'Melo and Love, who can they target?
If contract extension talks break down between the Portland Trail Blazers and star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, that becomes a situation worth watching. According to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, Aldridge is holding off on signing a deal with the team until next summer, but he is happy with the team's direction and wants to stay.
"I don't want it to be perceived that I'm not happy or I'm not staying on because I'm not signing a three-year deal," Aldridge said. "It's just financially smarter to wait and I'm looking forward to signing the five-year deal when the chance comes."
The Bulls' chances of landing Aldridge are slim, but stranger things have happened.
With Aldridge out of the picture, 2015's free-agent class doesn't offer much that Chicago needs. Rajon Rondo will headline the group but, unless Rose's body continues to betray him, that's not a sensible option for the Bulls.
From there, you have Marc Gasol (doesn't fit a need) and Rudy Gay (no, thanks) as the best unrestricted free agents. After that, there's opt-out candidates such as Monta Ellis, Eric Gordon and Thaddeus Young. None of those names really get the blood pumping in the Windy City, though.
In 2016, things get a little more intriguing. Oklahoma City Thunder forward and reigning MVP Kevin Durant becomes a free agent. Like with Aldridge and Portland, it seems far-fetched that Durant would skip town.
If he does, few teams can offer an opportunity better than the Bulls. They have a good coach and a great supporting cast in a weak conference. You add Kevin Durant to the Noah-Rose tandem and the power in the NBA begins to shift.
Of course, these are all fantasy scenarios. In an increasingly impatient basketball world, fans won't be satisfied with holding on to a glimmer of hope that can be cashed two years from now. Luckily for Bulls fans, they have a solid roster and are still in the running to acquire Love.
If Love doesn't come to Chi-town, the long wait for the next opportunity to land another star continues.