Just how good is Andrew Wiggins, the top pick of last month’s draft? Let me put it to you this way; the same question applies to every rookie who hasn’t played in a regular season game. That includes Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. Those are three of the players put on the table to pry Love away from the Minnesota Timberwolves. President and coach Flip Saunders has been around awhile, and he is someone who prefers veterans over youth movements. Crazy? Go tell that to the new man in charge who just kept Carmelo Anthony in the Big Apple in Phil Jackson.
As of today, the Bulls would probably clinch a top three seed in the Eastern Conference. Granted, it’s as wide open as it has been in recent memory. The Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors believe they can take a step forward. Although the Indiana Pacers didn’t really improve this offseason, they are still a top team in the East. Aside from those handful of teams, the Detroit Pistons aim to make things work with their talent under Stan Van Gundy, as do the Charlotte Hornets that landed Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson in back to back offseasons.
The thing is, Saunders and the Timberwolves know what they have in Taj Gibson. The Bulls’ big man was runner-up to Jamal Crawford for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, and he garnered honorable mention for All-Defensive Team. Gibson is a defensive-oriented veteran who can switch on pick and rolls, something that most Western Conference teams lack. He also finishes with authority any chance he gets, going for more dunks than most big men not in Lob City. Minnesota has another issue to deal with after this situation gets settled, like the fact that point guard Ricky Rubio wants a max-contract extension.
Gibson is rumored to be offered in a package with the aforementioned McDermott and Mirotic. McBuckets was voted the most impressive player in the Summer League by his peers, making the All-Summer League Team and named to the USA Select Team. Yet he hasn’t played an official minute in the Association like Wiggins. Neither has Mirotic, who won a pair of MVPs overseas and is coming off a season averaging 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds. In addition, the Bulls do own a first-round pick from the Sacramento Kings, but it is top-10 protected in next year’s draft.
Chicago would still be nine players deep in the rotation at the disposal of a Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau. They need to make this happen more than Cleveland needs to, and their assets are more appealing to Minnesota and Saunders. Kevin Martin is believed to be included in any trade for Love. Perhaps overpaid to those who don’t know his game, Martin has a stroke teams should want in their lineup. He uses his shot to his advantage by driving to the hole and sinking free throws at a high efficiency. Yes, that’s the kicker in acquiring Love.
Knowing the type of fight and style the Bulls have, they have to make a splash to get the better of LeBron James in a series, and any beast that comes out the West for that matter. They haven’t had much scoring, and they positioned themselves well this season with firepower currently on the roster and also to bring a guy like Love who drops 26 points per game. Bringing him on board with the addition of Pau Gasol gives the returning Derrick Rose a lighter load. That would also form the strongest frontline in the NBA; that’s right, they wouldn’t be trading Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah.
Whether it takes a couple first-round picks or guys like Mike Dunleavy or Tony Snell to match contracts, now is the time for the Bulls to push all their chips to the center of the table and actually compete for a championship again.