The Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes is unofficially upon us after multiple sources revealed Anthony will opt out of his final year with the Knicks and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Bulls are said to be the leading contenders for his services, but sources say former MVP Derrick Rose is hoping the Bulls land Kevin Love, instead.
With ‘Melo opting out, he’s on everyone’s radar, but it’s been revealed Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is excited enough about the prospect of adding ‘Melo’s scoring, he’s actively reaching out to him through back channels and asking former coaches about what makes him tick.
Chicago’s 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah has reportedly been selling ‘Melo on Chicago since back in February, so if ‘Melo is just using Chicago’s offer as a way to drive Knicks owner James Dolan to augment whatever number president Phil Jackson has put on the table, he’ll be crushed. One Bulls player — according to reports — would be elated, though, and that’s Derrick Rose. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports:
Noah will be disappointed if it turns out that Anthony uses the Bulls merely to get Dolan to up the Knicks’ offer. But one of his teammates won’t be crushed. Derrick Rose hasn’t called Anthony once and isn’t expected to do any recruiting when the Bulls make their run at the Knicks’ top scorer in free agency.
According to sources close to Kevin Love, Rose’s preference is for the Bulls to work out a deal as soon as possible for Minnesota’s All-Star forward because he sees Love as more of a team player than Anthony. Chicago is in the mix with Golden State for Love, with Boston and Denver considered long shots. If it makes any difference to Melo, Rose has no plans to recruit Love, who is free next summer, either. But the Bulls already know whom he’d really prefer to play with in the future.
Rose is on the record as saying he’ll never recruit free agents for the Bulls, but he appears to favor Love because he sees him as “more of a team player.” This refutes Joe Cowley’s sources for the Chicago Sun-Times from earlier this week when he wrote that Derrick Rose “has reportedly gotten involved” in the ‘Melo courtship.
The phrasing could mean a number of different things, including buying into a teams’ system, or selfless production where a player puts team goals above their own. It could also simply mean, ‘Melo won’t pass me the ball.’
Love, despite some recent criticisms he’s more interested in padding his own rebounding numbers over challenging an opposing shot, averaged more than 1.5 assists than ‘Melo in almost two minutes less per game during the 2013-14 season, per basketball-reference. He also assisted on a much larger percentage of his team’s buckets when he was on the floor than Anthony, despite a smaller usage percentage.
Love is also the master of the outlet pass.
Forgetting for a second a possible onus on rebounds over preventing an opponent’s basket, Love’s willingness to hit cutting teammates, despite a huge gap between his offensive capabilities and the rest of the ‘Wolves,* appears to align quite aptly with Rose’s differentiating criteria between the two stars.
This could all be moot. The Bulls’ duo of John Paxson and Gar Forman will make the decision to sign or trade for ‘Melo or Love if they think it makes them better. The addition of one or the other — barring a complete gutting of their current nucleus — would certainly do so. That’s all that will matter in the end.
*Minney’s offensive rating with Love on the court: 108.5; with Love sitting: 98.0. That’s the difference between a top-five offense, and the second-worst offense in the entire NBA last season.
Does Rose really prefer Love over ‘Melo, and if he does, will it matter?
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