Noah excited about the new-look Bulls

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
5:20
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said Friday he likes what the Bulls have done in the offseason and has gotten over Carmelo Anthony's decision to re-sign with the New York Knicks.

"I'm really excited," Noah said of the Bulls on Friday. "I think Gar [Forman] and [John Paxson] and everybody did a real good job. I'm really, really excited about the Bulls. It just makes you want to work hard and be as ready as possible for the upcoming season."

[+] EnlargeLeBron James and Joakim Noah
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJoakim Noah looks forward to matching up against LeBron James' Cavaliers this season.
Noah hoped Anthony would join the Bulls and he helped recruit him, but he understands Anthony's decision.

"I think he did the right decision for him," Noah said. "We obviously recruited him pretty hard. I think he had to make the best decision for him. I'm really excited for our team the way it is. I think we're deeper. I think those things, me personally, I can't control where another man goes. He feels like New York is the best position for him. I'm happy for him. But at the end of the day, what I care about is this city and the Chicago Bulls."

Noah is especially excited about adding Pau Gasol to the Bulls' frontcourt.

"I think it's going to be great," Noah said. "Pau is someone who is very, very smart. I think his father was a doctor. Someone who comes with a lot of experience. Not just a great player, but somebody who cares about the community as well. I'm excited to see him help us as well to try to slow down the violence and help the kids out here in Chicago. Somebody who is also very humbling to play with, somebody who has won championships and with his pedigree somebody I can really learn from."

Noah reported he's been rehabbing his left knee every day after having arthroscopic surgery in May.

He has also kept tabs on teammate Derrick Rose and his road to recovery in the offseason.

"I'm really proud of him because I know he sacrificed his whole summer," Noah said. "He sacrificed a lot to be the best that he can. That's all you can do. People's expectations, all that stuff doesn't matter. I'm proud of him for putting the work that he put in to be in the best position possible. He's doing a lot of things. He's helping us out too with our foundation. I got nothing but love for him."

Noah doesn't exactly have love for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, though.

"Good for LeBron," Noah said of James rejoining the Cavaliers. "I'm happy for LeBron James. He gets to go home. People are happy over there. But I really hope that we can kick his [butt] as many times as possible."

Boozer 'humbled' during final Bulls season

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
1:40
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Carlos Boozer said he was "humbled" by playing more limited minutes during his final season with the Chicago Bulls, who used the amnesty provision earlier this month on the last year of the veteran forward's contract.

Boozer
"It was (difficult). It was at times," Boozer said Friday as he was introduced by the Los Angeles Lakers. "But you learn a lot. I was humbled a lot and I grew a lot as a man and as an individual. So, I take all that with me in my new experience."

Boozer rarely played in the fourth quarter last season under Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who favored Taj Gibson, a superior defender.

"Playing first quarter and third quarter, not having a chance to help my team at the end of the game to win was tough," Boozer said. "As a competitor, you want to be out there doing everything you can to help your team win and to not get an opportunity, it was humbling. So, I learned a lot from that process."

The Bulls used the amnesty provision on the final season of Boozer's five-year, $75 million contract on July 15. Nine teams with cap space were able to make a blind bid to pick up the remaining portion of his $16.8 million deal. The Lakers won with a bid of $3.25 million, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

Boozer, who averaged 15.5 points and nine rebounds in four seasons in Chicago, praised the Bulls for the way they handled the amnesty process.

"Chicago was great about everything," Boozer said. "They’re a great organization, first class. They were in touch with me and Rob Pelinka, my agent, along the whole process. So, as they were making their decision for where they were going with the team, they let us know. So we knew we were going to get amnestied, I think, the day before and we went forward."

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

Carmelo Anthony: I want to win

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
11:42
AM CT
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LAS VEGAS -- Carmelo Anthony said it was not the money, but instead his confidence in team president Phil Jackson and his belief that the New York Knicks "aren't that far away from contending for an NBA title," that made him opt to remain in New York instead of signing with the Chicago Bulls.

"I want to win. I don't care about the money," Anthony told ESPN.com. "I believe Phil will do what he has to do to take care of that.

"I don't think we're that far away," he added. "People use 'rebuilding' too loosely."

In what were believed to be Anthony's first public comments since agreeing to a five-year deal worth $124 million earlier this month, he told ESPN.com that the decision was so agonizing in the final days that he could not watch TV or go on the Internet.

"It was overwhelming," Anthony said. "It was stressful in the final days, one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make."

Anthony said, though, it ultimately came down to New York and Chicago.

"I was flip-flopping," he admitted. "It was hard. It was Chicago, but then after I met with L.A., it was L.A. But it came back to Chicago -- and was pretty much always Chicago or New York. That's a situation where I could have walked in now to an opportunity to compete for the next however many years."

But the 30-year-old Anthony said he is invigorated to work with a new team president in Phil Jackson and a new coach in Derek Fisher.

"It's a matter of me believing in the organization, believing in Phil," Anthony said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I can end my career."


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The Cleveland Cavaliers cannot officially trade Andrew Wiggins before Aug. 23, but they remain the front-runner in the trade sweepstakes for the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves, at present, are higher on a Cleveland trade package centered on Wiggins than any other offer on the table for Love.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Cavaliers, meanwhile, are increasingly confident about their chances of landing Love and firmly believe they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Timberwolves will accept in exchange for the All-Star power forward, which would enable Cleveland to pair him with Olympic teammate LeBron James.

The fact that league rules prevent Wiggins from being traded for 30 days after finally signing his rookie contract with the Cavs on Thursday would appear to give other suitors a window to put together an offer that could trump Cleveland's. But the Cavaliers' main current threat in the Love sweepstakes -- Chicago -- has to sweat out a similar wait if it hopes to entice the Wolves with either of its prized rookies.

The Bulls signed sharpshooter Doug McDermott


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Forecast: Love swings NBA title odds

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
11:00
PM CT
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What impact does Kevin Love have on the NBA title race? Based on predictions made by our ESPN Forecast panel, this star who has never made a postseason has the potential to completely shake up next season's championship picture.

Though the San Antonio Spurs are currently projected to win next season's title, they lose that status if Love gets traded to an Eastern contender. If the Cavs get Love, our panel has them as the overall 2015 title favorites. Same goes for the restocked Bulls if they acquire Minnesota's highly available power forward.

To be clear, these projections are pricing in the weakness of the East. We specifically asked panelists to predict a future Cavs (with Love) vs. Spurs Finals, and San Antonio came out as better than 60 percent favorites. The Spurs are thought to remain the league's best team, but they have to do more to make the Finals than an Eastern contender must.

The panel also sees Cleveland as the favorite to win the East if Love is not traded to Cleveland or Chicago. While adding Love certainly boosts the Cavs' chances, the panel sees a Love addition as far more important for Golden State than for Cleveland. Based on our projections, getting Love on the Warriors better than triples their chances of a title parade by the Bay.


ESPN Forecast: NBA title chances if Kevin Love is traded to Cleveland


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If Love goes to Bulls, what's Gasol's role?

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
2:49
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Lost amid all the speculation revolving around Kevin Love's possible relocation to Chicago is the fact Love's arrival would have a direct impact on the Bulls' biggest offseason acquisition to date: Pau Gasol.

[+] EnlargePau Gasol
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsNewly-acquired Pau Gasol would have to head to the bench if the Bulls get Kevin Love.
With Love in the fold alongside Joakim Noah, Gasol likely would be the odd man out of the starting lineup. Neither Love nor Gasol has ever been known as a great defender, so there's little chance that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would decide to play all three together to start games.

Gasol is signed for three years and made it clear during his introductory news conference that he believes the Bulls can compete for a title and he still has plenty left in the tank.

By all accounts, Gasol is a solid teammate and the type of player who will fit in well with any locker room. But how would he handle coming off the bench on the back end of a storied career? If he knew the Bulls were going to add Love, would that have changed his thought process in free agency?

When former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni decided to use Gasol in a reserve role at times during the 2012-13 season, the former All-Star expressed his displeasure.

"I'm not excited about it," Gasol told reporters after a loss to the Bulls in January of 2013. "It's not something that I've ever [done], coming off the bench. But right now I'm more worried about us as a team and us struggling, so it would be selfish of me talking about how I feel of something in particular."

The end of that quote may prove to be the most important for Gasol and the Bulls moving forward. He's also proven to be a team player in the past and would be best served leading the second unit in this scenario. Love is just 25 years old and is one of the best players in the game. Gasol could still be an important member of a championship-caliber team, he just wouldn't hear his name called at the beginning of games.

After losing out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency, the Bulls made the right move to go after Gasol as a contingency plan. Now that Love remains stuck in limbo in Minnesota, the Bulls are making the right play by continuing to go after him. If the Timberwolves accepted a deal for Love of Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, as Sheridanhoops.com reported earlier this week, Gasol would fortify a group off the bench that would still be strong. Gasol, Tony Snell or Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks would be at Thibodeau's disposal in what would remain a deep roster.

Gasol surely wouldn't be happy coming off the bench, but if Love were to come to Chicago then Gasol should take solace in the fact he would be on a better team than even he could have imagined when he signed his Bulls contract last week.

Bulls should risk depth for talent in Love

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
1:19
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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video

CHICAGO -- Life is short, and compared to other top scorers in the NBA, so is Derrick Rose.

That's why, if fate aligns it so, the Chicago Bulls should trade what they can for the promise of Kevin Love, a 6-foot-10 scorer who has never made the playoffs and is best known for throwing parabolic outlet passes.

[+] EnlargeKevin Love
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith Kevin Love and Joakim Noah, the Bulls would have two of the best passing big men in the game.
While I am more of a fan of the journey than of the ultimate destination -- a condition stemming from a lifetime of losing at sports -- I understand that winning your last game is the only thing that matters once the journey winds to the end.

The Bulls need to validate their station in life with a championship. Currently, they have a very deep team on paper, a collection of very tall scorers, several adept passers, a few long-range shooters, three strong defenders, one all-NBA center and Rose, the youngest MVP in league history, now the most luckless.

Reportedly, the Bulls are willing to trade power forward Taj Gibson, rookie small forward Doug McDermott and perhaps either rookie Euroleague "star" Nikola Mirotic or other assets (draft picks and the like) to the Timberwolves for Love, who wants out of the Twin Cities for obvious reasons. This deal is expected to be considered by the Wolves and rejected in favor of one with the Cavaliers. That would be a nightmare for the Bulls.

Still, I am intrigued by the Bulls' current team, and I think it could win the East as constructed, and if everyone remains healthy, be a problem for whomever comes out of the West.
But I would do this move. So would the typically risk-averse Bulls, if they've in fact offered it, so I'm not exactly out on a limb.

Love would command a high salary, especially if he re-signs with the team next season after his contract expires, and that would limit the Bulls' depth going forward.

Depth is a conflicting word for some. It could mean being like the San Antonio Spurs, the sport's reigning champion and testament to the team-first principles of basketball supposedly lost in today's highlight-package society. Depth could also mean an annual excuse for failure to land the luminous free agents of the league. More of the lesser is equal to less of the best? Sure, if you say so.

Depth can't always beat guys off the dribble deep in the playoffs when LeBron is suffocating you on the perimeter. Maybe it can, sometimes, but not always. One key to success is eliminating unknowns. Rose, Love and Joakim Noah, well, we know that would be an excellent core to a crunch-time playoff lineup.

Many have understandably forgotten how brilliant Rose was in his MVP season. It's been awhile. A lot of B-roll of him warming up in vain has clouded our collective memory in the meantime.

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Would you trade Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic for Kevin Love?

  •  
    39%
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    61%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,410)

Even in his injury-plagued follow-up season, he was still Derrick Rose, a unique talent who blended speed, power and imagination into a chiseled 6-foot-2 1/2 (in his eponymous shoes) product.

In the last playoff game he suited up for, which ended with him crumpled on the floor with a torn ACL, he had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. He didn't shoot well (9-for-23), but he shined.

It's tough to judge Rose's viability as The Guy, because the Bulls have played three postseasons without him. But the possibility of Love, just 25, pairing with Rose would make the Bulls favorites in the East and a serious competitor against the Western Conference powerhouses.

Love can't be shaded by bigger defenders, like Rose can in theory and in past practice.

While he's been marooned with a lifeless franchise, Love is a proven commodity as a scorer, an All-Star and gold medalist. He averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds last season. He shot 37.5 percent on 3-pointers and averaged 4.4 assists. His advanced stats are bananas. He is everything you want offensively in one package.

Love and Noah would comprise the best passing big man combo in the league, and when Pau Gasol comes in for either player, that notion wouldn't change.

In this proposed deal, the Bulls would only lose Gibson's defense, which is something special to be sure. But if they could keep Jimmy Butler and Noah, and provided Tony Snell keeps progressing, they'd still have three tough defenders.

It's important to remember that while coach Tom Thibodeau will sacrifice offense for defense at the end of games, his system doesn't require every player to be an elite one-on-one defender. It's designed to push activity to the paint. That's why Thibodeau preaches "five guys acting as one" on defense.

On Gasol joining Gibson and Noah in a power forward/center rotation, Thibodeau said last week, "The thing I love about all three is they have great length. Defensively you're going to always have two 7-footers on the floor. If you get by the initial one, there's always going to be a second one by the rim. It's going to be very difficult to get shots in the paint."

[+] EnlargeTaj Gibson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTaj Gibson would be a significant loss for the Bulls but worth it for Kevin Love.
The 6-10 Love is still tall, right? He is capable of playing defense.

To me, it's a no-brainer of a deal, because what is life without risk?

I have no stake in this debate, but I'll admit I'm a fan of Gibson and part of me wants to see the Bulls win the East and a title with him in the lineup.

Corny as it sounds, he represents everything that is good about a professional athlete. He comes from the city game, Brooklyn, and he made himself into a near-star in the polished NBA. He did prep school and went to USC, hardly a basketball power, and was a low first-round pick at an advanced age who worked his way into an $8 million-plus per year contract. He is proof that you can improve in the NBA. He's been a strong defender since college, but his offensive game has blossomed beyond high-flying putback dunks. I enjoy talking to him and consider him the true "heart and soul" of a team that considers itself an underdog.

McDermott, a 6-8 reigning collegiate player of the year, could be a special scorer. Taken 11th in the draft, the Bulls surrendered picks to move up and get him. The Bulls scouted McDermott, who is more than a long-range bomber, so extensively at Creighton, they've probably seen him play more in person the past two years than Rose.

Mirotic is the mystery man. The 6-10 Montenegrin was a versatile scorer for Real Madrid with "a solid defensive base," according to Thibodeau. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla compared him to Hedo Turkoglu, while Bulls fans dream, in a narrow-minded sort of way, of Dirk Nowitzki.

That's the definition of depth: An athletic post player/one-on-one defender, a young scorer and a "spacing four" with potential. All signed at reasonable prices.

And there's Love, just one man who has promised he will explore free agency after next season.

Still, do it.

My entire argument will probably be rendered null when Cleveland trades Andrew Wiggins and friends for Love, and he and LeBron rule the East with a fun, Twitter-friendly style of basketball.

The Bulls will finish in second place for Love, another silver medal to hang next to the ones honoring their pursuits of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron, Chris Bosh and more.

Led by Thibodeau, they will soldier on with their deep, tall team, hoping they can defensively strangle their way to the title. I think they could do it with a little luck and most importantly, a healthy Rose.

But it would be fascinating to watch Rose, Love and Noah play together and for the Bulls to seize an opportunity to risk depth for talent. I will always root for a good story.
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The Chicago Bulls' original copy of Michael Jordan's $33 million contract -- the most valuable single-season contract in NBA history -- has hit the auction block.

The contract, which Jordan signed for the 1997-98 season, was his last with the Bulls. That season culminated in a sixth championship for Jordan and the Bulls. The contract is signed by Jordan, himself, and initialed by him on each of its 24 pages. It's also signed by Jerry Krause, former Bulls general manager, and Irwin Mandel, the man in charge of the Bulls' finances. It also includes a two-page cover letter from Mandel to the NBA.

The original estimate for the contract's value by the company auctioning it, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, was $30,000, but with a week remaining until the bidding closes next Thursday night, bidding has already topped $28,000.

"It's hard to compare this to anything we've sold," said Chris Ivy, the company's director of sports auctions. "It's Jordan, who is in a class by himself, and, to our knowledge, this is the only Jordan playing contract to ever surface."

Even still, the contract was once obtained for a bargain. Ivy said the consignor, who prefers to remain anonymous, bought the contract as part of a charity auction in 2000 for less than $1,000.

The most valuable sports contract ever sold was Babe Ruth's 1918, $5,000 Red Sox contract, which was sold in an auction earlier this month for $1.02 million.

Last year, Heritage sold Wayne Gretzky's rookie contract with the Edmonton Oilers, a 10-year, $3 million deal that was signed on his 18th birthday. The contract itself sold for $47,800.

Factoring for inflation, Jordan's $33 million contract would be worth roughly $49 million in today's dollars.


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Gibson: Rose going to be 'dominant'

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
1:38
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Taj GibsonAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesTaj Gibson expects big things from Derrick Rose and the Bulls' newcomers.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Taj Gibson has no doubt that Derrick Rose is going to come back this season better than ever after playing in just 10 games for the Chicago Bulls over the last two seasons because of two serious knee injuries.

"Derrick's been having a great summer," Gibson said on Wednesday during an appearance for his basketball camp. "He's sacrificed, stayed in Chicago all summer to work on his game. He wants to let his game speak for itself. He's staying away from all the negative stuff, just working on his game. Every day I go in the gym he's there and moving forward. He's going to come back dominant."

Frontcourt depth is 'shocking': Like many within the Bulls organization, Gibson is looking forward to the opportunities that come with the additions of Pau Gasol and European star Nikola Mirotic. He is confident he and the new players will work great alongside All-Star center Joakim Noah.

"It's shocking," Gibson said. "It's scary at times when you think about the potential of the front line and the depth. Our young guy from overseas (Nikola Mirotic), he's going to be extremely good. We've got Joakim, we're not going to have to put so many minutes on him. Every year late in the season he's always banged up."

Gibson believes the addition of Gasol is really going to help the Bulls in a lot of areas.

"I think it's a great addition for our team," he said. "It gives us more depth. I think we have more size up front. One thing about our bigs, Thibs is going to have so many different options. He can go small, he can go big, we have a lot of different lineups."

The last word:
Gibson, on if he wants to stay in Chicago -- "Without a doubt. I'm a nonchalant kind of guy. I'm not a talkative kind of guy, just let my game speak for myself. But this place has been home for me, a lot of good things. I'm looking forward to the future, but we got to see what happens."

Taj Gibson wants to stay with Bulls

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
1:20
PM CT
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- With his name in trade rumors for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Wednesday he doesn't want to leave Chicago, but is prepared for anything.

"It's tough, but it's a part of the business," Gibson said. "I've been in the league for a while now, I've been around some great veterans that taught me a lot about the game. The one thing that [they say] is be grateful that somebody wants you. Be grateful to be in the NBA and just focus on your game. You can only do so much -- just focus on your game and focus on getting better."

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Bulls are making a late push to try to acquire Love, but the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the favorites to land him, according to sources. Any deal involving the Bulls likely would include Gibson, who will make $8 million next season. NBA writer Chris Sheridan reported Wednesday that the Bulls have offered Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and first-round draft pick Doug McDermott to the Timberwolves for Love, according to sources.

Gibson, who finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, acknowledged that the talk is "flattering," but he knows he ultimately doesn't have any control over what happens.


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Which trade should Flip make?

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
10:22
AM CT

We're late in the NBA offseason transaction-wise, and with the major free agents off the board, Minnesota's Kevin Love has again moved center stage. The skinny: Love can opt out of his contract after the season and reportedly has communicated to the Timberwolves that he intends to move on as soon as possible. So coach and personnel chief Flip Saunders is left to weigh trade offers against the risk of keeping Love around in hopes that his feelings will change.

My stance hasn't changed. I don't think Minnesota should deal Love at all. Not now. Of course, my stance is pretty irrelevant being that I don't run the Timberwolves, and despite my clear-headed analysis, the rumor mill is abuzz with Love-related talk. Our report is that the Cleveland Cavaliers are likely in the lead in the Love derby, with the Chicago Bulls in pursuit. Last month, the Golden State Warriors were rumored to be a prime suitor, and it's still believed that if Golden State is willing to give up Klay Thompson, Love would be headed to the West Coast. Rumors are rumors, but after Cleveland sent Carrick Felix to Utah on Tuesday for three nonguaranteed contracts, it's apparent that something is going on.

Let's make some assumptions:

1. Saunders believes he needs to resolve the Love situation before his team hits training camp in a few weeks.

2. Minnesota will insist on getting back a mix of rotation players and future assets in hopes of remaining a playoff contender this season, thus ruling out teams that offer future assets only, such as the Boston Celtics.

3. Saunders wants to leverage Love's considerable trade value to pare veterans Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea from his payroll.

4. The teams mentioned above are actual potential trade partners and not just the product of information leaks meant to rev up the bidding.

With all that in mind, let's assess these three scenarios from the Timberwolves' perspective, since they hold all the cards. I'll use the framework of deals from the rumor mill but will tweak them so that they work under the collective bargaining agreement's trade rules. To evaluate the potential trades, I will use a methodology similar to what we used in January to rank teams' trade assets. This assigns WARP value to assets like draft picks and cap space, as well as the players involved.


1. Chicago Bulls

The deal: Chicago sends Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and a future first-round pick to Minnesota for Love and sends a future first-round pick to Philadelphia. Minnesota sends Martin to Philadelphia.

Value: 41.1 future WARP

Bulls still exploring marriage with Love

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
5:48
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Gar Forman has a mantra he lives by on a day-to-day basis: He's always looking to improve the club. The basketball lifer delivers that message all the time when questions about roster construction are asked.

That's why it should come as no surprise that the Bulls are still kicking the tires regarding a Kevin Love deal, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst. Love is a star player and would make any team he lands on better.

But now that the Bulls' roster has been filled with the likes of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Aaron Brooks, among others, the bigger question for Forman is whether the Bulls would have to give up too much of their depth to land Love.

For several years, the feeling around the league was that if the Bulls were serious about acquiring Love, it would likely cost them a combination of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Mirotic and some future first-round picks. That speculation will only ramp up again after the latest report, especially with the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly offering No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and Golden State still possibly adding Klay Thompson in a deal to pick up Love.

With the rest of the Bulls' roster in place -- the signings of Brooks and McDermott became official Tuesday -- the truth is that a Love addition would decimate the depth they have acquired in the past few weeks. If Gibson, Butler and Mirotic were included in a deal, one that wouldn't be done for several weeks, since Mirotic just signed Friday, the Bulls would take away the depth that has made them one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

That's why if the Bulls were really serious about landing Love, I don't think they would have pushed so quickly to add free agent Gasol. The posturing that goes on during NBA trade talks is always much more entertaining than the actual deals that go down. In the end, I don't believe Love ends up in Chicago. Plus, it's unclear if he would sign an extension to stay here over time.

The Bulls would be a better team with Love in the fold -- but how much better? Gibson and Butler are two of their top three defenders. Mirotic is a great unknown, but he has the potential to become an All-Star over time according to some experts. More importantly, in the short term, how would Joakim Noah, Gasol and Love be able to work together on the floor?

Forman will continue to work the phones and see what Love's status is in the coming weeks, but the Bulls are comfortable with the team they have and confident that this roster, led by Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau, can ultimately take the organization where it wants to go.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5