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updated: 8/7/2014 2:25 PM

With Love joining Cavs, can Bulls compete?

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  • A deal is in place for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) to join LeBron James in Cleveland. The Cavaliers will give up Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future first-round draft pick for Love.

    A deal is in place for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) to join LeBron James in Cleveland. The Cavaliers will give up Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future first-round draft pick for Love.
    Associated Press


Is Carmelo Anthony having second thoughts yet?

LeBron James broke up the four-time Eastern Conference champs when he left Miami, but another super team is developing in Cleveland.

According to multiple reports, the Cavs and Minnesota have agreed in principle on a trade that will send all-star power forward Kevin Love to Cleveland in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future No. 1 pick.

The deal won't be official until Aug. 23 because, by rule, Wiggins can't be traded for 30 days after signing his rookie contract.

When it's done, there will be a three-star lineup in Cleveland, with Love, James and point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavs also have ex-Miami 3-point specialists Mike Miller and James Jones. There is talk they could add veteran shooting guard Ray Allen and former Dallas forward Shawn Marion for minimum salaries.

While the Bulls feel good about the changes they made this summer, can they compete against that group? If not, it's too late to add another superstar. Anthony said no to the Bulls in free agency and Minnesota said no to their reported Love trade offer of Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic.

In reality, the Bulls didn't have much chance against Cleveland in the Love sweepstakes. The Cavs are sending back the last two No. 1 overall picks in the draft. Lottery luck has its privileges and the Cavaliers landed the No. 1 overall pick four times in 12 years.

The Bulls' chances of winning the Eastern Conference title next season begin and end with Derrick Rose staying healthy. For argument's sake, let's assume that happens. Do the Bulls have enough to beat Cleveland?

Here's a ray of hope: The Bulls should be a much better defensive team than the Cavs, and have the talent to win the inside battle, which is always important in the playoffs.

The Bulls have several high-quality defenders, led by Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler. Taj Gibson is another standout and Tony Snell might develop into a stopper on the wing. In Cleveland, James is the only player with any sort of defensive reputation.

Love is 6-10, but doesn't always play near the basket. His questionable defense is often cited as a reason he never made the playoffs during six seasons with the Timberwolves. Love is one of the league's best rebounders, though. He averaged 12.5 last season and that was his lowest total in four years.

If Love had played on a good team, he might have gotten MVP consideration for averaging 26.1 points, 12.5 boards and 4.4 assists.

While interior defense could be a weakness in Cleveland, the Cavs should be in decent shape on the glass. Anderson Varejao is still around and he averaged 9.7 rebounds last season. The only other big on Cleveland's roster right now is third-year power forward Tristan Thompson, who averaged 11.7 points and 9.2 boards last season.

The Cavs traded for Brendan Haywood this summer, but he missed all of last season with a broken foot and it's unclear if he'll be ready to play to start the season.

Marion is 36, but still averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds as a starter in Dallas last season.

The Cavaliers' lineup will most likely include Love, James and Irving, with a 3-point shooter at the two and either Varejao or Thompson at center.

The best strategy for the Bulls might be to go all-in to win this season while the Cavs are still trying to figure out their chemistry. The problem is, the Bulls will also be blending in new faces, starting with Rose -- who's barely played in two years -- along with Pau Gasol, McDermott and Mirotic.

With Paul George's ugly injury knocking the Pacers out of contention, there will be almost universal expectations of a Bulls-Cavaliers matchup in the Eastern Conference finals (assuming everyone stays healthy, of course).

What's cool about spending May in Cleveland? Noah and the Bulls may find out the answer.

• For the latest Bulls news via Twitter, follow Mike's reports @McGrawDHBulls.

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