Derrick Rose is the only “untouchable” player as the Bulls actively seek improvements to their starting lineup, several sources tell Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. That would mean First-Team All-NBA center Joakim Noah and others are available, though Cowley doesn’t specify whether the Bulls are dangling anyone in particular in ongoing talks. Carmelo Anthony remains Chicago’s No. 1 target, but the team is making a hard push to trade for Kevin Love, too, Cowley writes, suggesting the team will also make a serious run at LeBron James should he hit free agency this summer.
Noah, 29, is coming off a career year, and he’s set to make $12.7MM next season on a contract that runs through 2015/16, so his value is probably at an all-time high. Still, he’d seemingly be the last player other than Rose whom the Bulls would be willing to give up, with Taj Gibson not far behind. Noah has tried to recruit Anthony to Chicago, but the center doesn’t want to sacrifice Gibson to obtain the Knicks star forward, according to Cowley. Bulls executives have also been reluctant to part with Gibson, but it seems the hesitancy of Chicago’s brass is loosening if it would mean landing an All-Star caliber player in return, as Cowley observes.
It’s “not by choice” that the Bulls are making Rose the only player off-limits, Cowley writes, and that appears to indicate that other teams have signaled to Chicago that they’re wary of the point guard’s health. Rose has been unavailable for all but one game in the last three postseasons because of injury, and he’s missed most of the past two regular seasons.
The Bulls are open to just about any scenario, but it’s doubtful the team would part ways with Tom Thibodeau, Cowley hears. Chicago could extract valuable draft choices for the former Coach of the Year, who remains under contract, but in spite of rumors, it’s almost always seemed a long shot that he wouldn’t return to coach the Bulls next season.