This offseason for the Chicago Bulls is one of the most important in the team’s history. That being said, management and the front office need to stick to the plan and not make any rash decisions.
With a core of players in their prime playing years in Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, the Bulls are only one or two pieces away from being a legitimate front-runner in the Eastern Conference next season. Finding and more importantly signing that additional piece(s) needs to be a top priority for the team this summer.
As much as some fans may disagree with me, the only “superstar” target on the Bulls’ radar for the opening days of free agency should be Carmelo Anthony. He has expressed interest in coming to Chicago, and has publicly stated that he has been doing his research on the team and city. The current needs of the roster fit perfectly into what his game has molded into over the years, and would make the Bulls an instant title contender.
He should be the only superstar target for the Bulls. No LeBron James. No Kevin Love.
In all honesty, regardless of how much it would make sense from a purely basketball reason for James to join the Bulls, there is no way LeBron will play in the same city Michael Jordan did. He wants to write his own legacy and avoid the Jordan vs. James hoopla that would dominate headlines in Chicago.
Although Love would enjoy playing in Chicago, and the Bulls have reportedly made an offer to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Love, the Bulls would have to give up too much in a trade package. Is it worth giving up Gibson, Jimmy Butler and another asset? That would be a big no, in my opinion.
In 2010, the Bulls were trying to court both Dwyane Wade and James, which inevitably left them signing Carlos Boozer for too high of a price. If the Bulls attempt to recruit more than one superstar player this summer, I would bet the likely outcome would be the same as 2010: overpaying for one second-tier star. Nobody wants that in Chicago. We want Carmelo.
In the case that Carmelo decides to take his talents elsewhere (most likely Houston or Dallas), the Bulls can’t afford to make a panic move. Literally can’t afford it. There are a number of second-tier stars available in free agency that could help Chicago get to that next level without signing a mega superstar. Players like Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, Eric Bledsoe or even Luol Deng all fit the bill. The Bulls have the cap space to sign two high-caliber players if they play it smart.
Is swinging and missing on Carmelo bad for the Bulls? On the surface, yes. But the Bulls have the ability to put together a highly talented team regardless. They just need some good fortune both this summer, and on the injury front throughout the season; both things that have not been all that kind to them over the past decade.