If the Chicago Bulls are about winning now without giving up on their identity for the last few years than acquiring Kevin Love and not Carmelo Anthony, if the cap situation makes it even possible, would be the wiser choice, although it probably is going to be more difficult to get Love via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent now if he opts out of his deal. As we see Phil Jackson struggling to get the head coach he wants, it’s clear to see that rebuilding this team and guiding it to success next season considering all the cap limitations and finite potential of this team which didn’t make the playoffs in 2014, testing the market to see if there is a contender out there willing to take him is a smart move.
Kevin Love might not be the ‘pure scorer’ that Anthony is, but is a much more productive player when you think about rebounds and assists, is a better defender and should improve if being put into the right system like Tim Thibodeau’s Bulls who managed to do quite well even with Carlos Boozer in the lineup. He is also younger, and isn’t the kind of player who forces the entire offense to go through him. While the Bulls’ star player, Derrick Rose, isn’t exactly a ball hog who ignores everyone, having him and Anthony battle it out for shots doesn’t sound like a great idea.
Love is superior in almost every metric, with his WARP being third in the league at 20.2, while Anthony had a 14.2, ninth in the NBA. His plus-minus numbers are better, is a much more efficient shooter and draws more fouls. He is the better passer and rebounder and in short, Love is a much harder to find player and rarer talent, while Anthony, as good as he might be at his best, is the inferior choice.
However, things aren’t simply. While Love would like to play for the Chicago Bulls or any team that’s certain to make the playoffs next season, he has one more year on his contract, and the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t seem very happy to let him go. And it’s going to take quite a lot for Minnesota to agree to sending Love away: Taj Gibson, a first round draft pick and Nikola Mirotic for starters, but maybe even more.
And there’s also the Bulls’ cap situation: Even if they amnesty Carlos Boozer, they still won’t have the cap space to sign Carmelo Anthony without him either taking a huge salary cut which he won’t do, or trading away Taj Gibson and probably another piece to make it worthwhile for the Knicks. If Boozer gets amnestied the Bulls are down to $50 million, which is around $8 million under the cap next season, and that means they’ll have to give up some depth in order to get another star scorer to help them out.
This is a decision this franchise has faced more than once over the last ten years, since becoming relative again when it came to the playoffs. Break up a group of good players in order to get a superstar that might get them over the threshold and limit their cap maneuverability in future years, or stick to the plan, which is have Rose, a huge injury risk, as the team’s face and potentially best player and keep on building around him?
For a franchise that isn’t big on taking risks, maybe it’s time to make a bold move considering their goal is winning a championship now. But taking Anthony is almost like a poison pill – expensive, and simply not going to be good enough to take this team somewhere without hurting others around him. Kevin Love might be more crippling for the future, but gives them a better chance of winning now even if it’ll be a costly addition.