The Chicago Bulls have offered a package of Taj Gibson and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star forward Kevin Love, a league source told SheridanHoops.com on Wednesday.
The package is extremely intriguing to the Timberwolves, but there is a catch; it cannot be completed for another 29 days because McDermott and Mirotic signed their rookie contracts Tuesday. NBA rules prohibit rookies from being traded within the first 30 days of inking their rookie deals.
That could be good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who still have not signed Andrew Wiggins and may not do so until the end of this week. That will give them time to present Minnesota with an offer that can be acted upon immediately, bringing the Love trade talks to a quicker conclusion and giving the Cavs a superstar trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Love.
The source who spoke to SheridanHoops said he believed the Bulls’ offer was better in the minds of the Wolves than the Cavs’ current offer of Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick.
But if Cleveland is willing to include a second future first-round pick – it owns the rights to Miami’s first-rounder as well as Memphis’ in 2015) – that might be enough to trump Chicago’s offer.
The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics also remain in contention for Love, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Gibson finished a narrow second in Sixth Man Award voting and would start on most teams. A solid two-way player, he would give the Timberwolves an immediate replacement at power forward for Love.
Ironically, Mirotic was once possession of the Wolves. The Montenegro native was taken 23rd in the 2011 draft by Houston, which immediately flipped his rights to Minnesota. The same day, the Wolves sent Mirotic to Chicago.
Considered the best player in the world not playing in the NBA, Mirotic just signed a three-year, $16.6 million contract that ultimately will offset the $3 million he owes Real Madrid for his buyout. He will make $5.305 million this coming season, the biggest first-year salary of any European rookie.
McDermott was taken 11th overall by Denver and dealt to Chicago for Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. His best attribute is shooting, which Minnesota needs. He was named to the All-Summer League Team after averaging 18.0 points and was one of two rookies chosen for the USA Select Team.
Love probably would have been dealt already if Golden State was not adamant about not including shooting guard Klay Thompson in the deal. The Warriors reportedly have offered power forward David Lee, either Harrison Barnes or fellow small forward Draymond Green and a future first-round pick. That prospective deal also is rumored to be bigger, with Golden State also taking back Wolves guard Kevin Martin.
On Tuesday, the Cavaliers swung a deal to give themselves more flexibility in a potential trade for Love. They sent Carrick Felix, a second-round pick and $1 million to the Utah Jazz for the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas. Those players could be included in a trade and instantly waived by the receiving team.
The Celtics have six extra first-round picks over the next four years, five players on rookie deals and the expiring contracts of Rajon Rondo, Marcus Thornton, Brandon Bass and Joel Anthony. Despite numerous reports that Celtics president Danny Ainge has been in discussion with Wolves GM Flip Saunders, no potential package has been leaked.