2014 NBA Free Agency: Bulls Must Eye Love over Melo

By Erik Lambert

Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference forward Kevin Love (42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against Eastern Conference forward Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

No team has so dominated the 2014 NBA free agency rumor mill like the Chicago Bulls.  Here is why Kevin Love, not Carmelo Anthony, should be their target.

Kevin Love is younger

If a team is in pursuit of a superstar free agent, the preference would be to target as young as possible.  Within reason of course.  In that case Love holds a decisive edge over Anthony.  He does not turn 26-years old until September while Melo just turned 30.  Obviously that’s not as pronounced an issue as it would be in football but if the Chicago Bulls are keen on competing for as many championships as possible coming out of 2014 NBA free agency then having those extra years with Love would be a huge benefit.

Carmelo Anthony loses edge in overall stats

It might sound hard to believe for NBA fans but for all the flash that Carmelo Anthony plays with, if one compares him to Kevin Love on the stat sheet he doesn’t hold any sort of decisive edge.  In 2013-2014, Anthony scored 27.4 points per game, dished out 3.1 assists and collected a career high 8.1 rebounds.  Meanwhile Love had 26.1 points, 4.4 assists and 12.5 rebounds per game.  Looking at that alone shows while Melo had a slight edge in points scored, Love is the better overall player thanks to his rebounding and passing.

Love is friends with Derrick Rose

Talent means the most when winning basketball games, but a lot can be said for team chemistry.  Looking at the idea of Carmelo joining the Bulls, one must ask the question of how he would mesh with star point guard Derrick Rose.  Anthony has never really had to share the ball during his days in New York and Denver, but most certainly would if he was paired with Rose.  That doesn’t mean there would be a problem but there’s a higher likelihood of it happening, particularly late in games when the team is trailing.  Besides that, Melo and Rose really don’t know each other that well so the unfamiliarity is another problem.  That is not the case with Love.  He and Rose have been friends for years.  They frequently have worked out together in the off-seasons down in California.  It’s fair to predict it wouldn’t take much for them to mesh.

There are other reasons that could be listed but it’s clear 2014 NBA free agency for the Chicago Bulls rests on finding a way to get Kevin Love first.  Only after that avenue is exhausted should they make their mad dash to get Carmelo Anthony.