Carmelo Anthony signed in New York. LeBron James went back home to Cleveland. Now that the two top free agents have settled on a home for the 2014-2015 season, focus has shifted back to one of the league’s best big men, who has stated that he will not re-sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and now Chicago Bulls are all making an attempt to lure in Kevin Love to their respective team. however, considering “The Windy City” recently picked up Pau Gasol, it could be a mistake to bring in the Minnesota forward that would, ultimately, lead to an overcrowded frontcourt.
Coming into the 2014 offseason, the Chicago Bulls needed one thing desperately — offense. Carmelo Anthony would have provided that for the Bulls, while also filling in their void at small forward after losing Luol Deng in a mid-season trade in February. However, as everyone knows, Anthony elected to stay in New York. As a response, Chicago enlisted the services of power forward/center Pau Gasol who will bolster the team’s offensive struggles, particularly underneath the basket and inside the key. Along with Gasol, Chicago signed another Spainiard in Nikola Mirotic, a 6’10” forward who played for Real Madrid last season, where he averaged 12.4 ppg on 53 percent shooting from the field and a 46 percent average from the three-point line. Along with Joakim Noah and the blossoming Taj Gibson off the bench, Chicago is full on big men.
This is why Chicago’s pursuit of Love is puzzling. The team has a highly crowded front court on the roster. Even if Chicago elects to trade Mirotic and Gibson, the latter of which potentially being a big mistake, coach Tom Thibodeau would have to sit Gasol, Love, or Noah. It is doubtful that any of those players would be willing to sit on the bench. Additionally, while a player like Kevin Love has the offensive powers to be a small forward, he does not have the quickness, nor would he be able to be the rebounding machine he has proven to be in the league. In the end, it is a lose-lose situation for the Bulls and a completely unnecessary one as it is not their power forward and center positions that needs work.
What does need work is their shooting guard and small forward positions. Jimmy Butler has proven he can be a good player, but last season he showed little evidence that he is worthy of a starting position, which can also be said of starting small forward Mike Dunleavy. These are the positions the Bulls need, but in order to even land Love, one or both of these players would have to be shipped out to Minnesota. As a result, Chicago would seriously dismantle their depth and would be forced to start Tony Snell instead. As such, the Bulls would bring in an offensive force while sacrificing their defensive identity and depth.
Worse yet is that the Chicago Bulls already have one of the most injury-prone squads. Love, while he did play the majority of his games last season, is yet another player that has been hurt frequently over his career. This is all not to mention that Gasol, Noah, Butler, Hinrich and particularly Derrick Rose have all a number of injuries over the years. In turn, between the injury risk of Love, depleting a bench that includes the surging Taj Gibson and an overloaded front court, a trade for Love, while tempting, could have a disastrous impact on the Bulls. After all, this is a team which is expected to make a deep run in the playoffs next year.
Chicago fans have been waiting for a quality squad ever since the Michael Jordan era. While bringing in Kevin Love is tempting, the cost to bring him in would be more trouble than it is worth; in other words, it has all the possibilities of being a big mistake for John Paxson and company. Instead, Chicago needs to focus on what they really need by upgrading its shooting guard and small forward positions, while also bolstering its bench, especially with the likely scenario of Rose being lost yet again. No one can blame the Chicago Bulls for trying to land the coveted Love, but with Gasol already signed to the team, it is too late for them to capture him.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey