- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Staff Writer
At least in terms of the Chicago sports news cycle, the Chicago Bulls re-emerged from offseason exile a couple of days ago when reports emerged Kevin Love was hitting the trade market, and Chicago was one of his preferred destinations.
The Bulls are often part of the rumor mill whenever a star player is looking for a new home, and just as often, Chicago fans are disappointed. Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and even hometown hero Dwyane Wade have all at one time or another seemed destined to follow in Michael Jordan's Nike-clad footsteps. Back in January, I analyzed Carmelo Anthony's situation and concluded that the Bulls were the most logical fit if he leaves the Knicks. Since then (not because of me), Anthony's name has been affixed to the Bulls whenever the subject of Chicago's offseason plan is broached.
Now you can add Love to the list of Chicago's high-profile pursuits, and it creates an interesting dynamic around here, while setting the city up for even more disappointment. Most NBA fans around the country are debating the merits of acquiring Love, and calculating the assets it would take to do so. In Chicago, the question du jour is very different: Melo or Love? Obviously, the question itself suggests that the Bulls have a lot more control over the situation that they actually do, which is very little. The cost for both players is going to be high in both dollars and assets, and the competition to acquire them will be fierce, likely driving up the price even more.
This is a classic sports debate. The Bulls might have to give up a little more to get Love, because Anthony can be a free agent. Nevertheless, targeting Love is the better move, and it's not particularly close. Why? Let us count the reasons.
1. Kevin Love is a better player.
People know this, right? Anthony is a more famous person and a great player in his own right -- a borderline MVP candidate at his best -- but Love is a top-five producer in the NBA -- the elite of the elite. Let's start with WARP, which does a great job of blending efficiency and volume. Last season, Anthony posted 14.2 WARP, ranking ninth in the league. That's All-Star production and was the best total, and ranking, of Anthony's 11-year career. Nevertheless, he produced six fewer wins than Love, who was third in the league with 20.2 WARP.