CHICAGO -- Sports fans thrive off hope. That's why Chicago Bulls fans are feeling so great about themselves these days. The idea of Carmelo Anthony joining forces with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah has been percolating for months. Now comes word again that Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love is interested in becoming a free agent after next year and is intrigued by the possibility of playing for the Bulls or the Golden State Warriors, among others.
Love's name has bounced around before in trade rumors that would lead him to Chicago, but this report from ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne has more urgency given that Love reportedly has made it clear he does not intend to stay in Minnesota after six seasons without seeing the playoffs.
With that in mind, let's go through the biggest questions hovering around Chicago right now:
Who's more likely to land with the Bulls, Anthony or Love?
I'd still go with option three: neither.
Why? It sounds as if both players have a genuine interest in playing for the Bulls.
For the Bulls to land Anthony and keep Taj Gibson -- which would be best for Chicago because it's likely to amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer -- Anthony would have to leave millions of dollars on the table to sign anywhere other than New York. That is a tough sell for anyone, but especially for a guy who enjoys playing in New York City. Yes, the Knicks' coaching search hasn't panned out the way Phil Jackson would have liked, but they can still offer Anthony the most money and the most years. Anthony can sign a maximum five-year, $129 million contract if he stays with the Knicks or a four-year, $95.8 million contract with any other team. In the end, that extra year may be too tough for Anthony to walk away from.
As for Love, the Bulls aren't going to give up anything of value unless they know he will sign a long-term extension. If he stays consistent and wants to test free agency next summer, then the odds of a Love to Chicago marriage are right about zero. If he would be open to signing the extension then the Bulls would have to work out a package to make it happen. That package would very likely include Boozer's expiring deal, Jimmy Butler, a first-round pick or two and the rights to Nikola Mirotic.
But would the Timberwolves take that deal in what figures to be a competitive trade market for Love? There's also no guarantee that Mirotic would come over and play for the Timberwolves. Butler is going to be looking for a big-money extension next summer and has not proved to have a consistent jump shot up to this point in his career. The draft choices are crucial for any team in the league because of the cost certainty on the salary cap, but the Bulls don't have the type of game-changing picks at 16 and 19 that would land potential superstars.
Who would be a better fit with the Bulls, Anthony or Love?
Love would have an instant comfort level with Rose, given the pair's history of working out with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan in the summer the past few years. But the Bulls need Anthony more. He can create his own shot and is the scoring threat the Bulls have missed most over the past few seasons under Tom Thibodeau. Anthony would be able to take the most pressure off Rose as the former MVP makes his way back from another knee injury.
Love and Noah would be a formidable force on the glass in Chicago for years to come, but it is Anthony who would put the Bulls closer to a title.