As far as Derrick Rose was concerned, little has changed.
The addition of Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers roster on Thursday? Obviously a great piece, but in Rose’s world, and more specifically the world he shares with his Bulls teammates, not a flinch.
“For us I don’t think it will change anything,’’ Rose said last week, when asked about the pending Love-to-Cleveland rumors that were building momentum. “We know that no matter who we play that we have a legit chance to beat anyone in the league, but at the same time, we know that it’s not going to be easy at all because guys are getting better.
“You have the guys going to different teams, and it’s going to be tough. But at the same time that’s why we’re in the NBA, and that’s why we love this game, for the challenge.’’
A challenge that just became a bit more serious, as Cleveland’s offseason rise from lottery joke to legit Eastern Conference threat took another step forward in the wake of the Love deal.
The Cavaliers were already the big offseason winners, with four-time MVP LeBron James making the monumental decision to return back home after spending four seasons in Miami and winning two NBA Championships.
James’ new running partner was underachieving point guard Kyrie Irving, but now has a career double-double machine in the three-time All-Star Love.
According to Yahoo, No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round pick were all sent to Minnesota in exchange for Love. And while the trade cannot be finalized until Aug. 23, because of NBA rules that don’t allow rookies to be dealt for 30 days after signing their contract, Love has also reportedly agreed to opt out of his current deal after this season, signing with the Cavs for five years, $120 million next summer.
It was also a second swing-and-miss for the Bulls front office this offseason, as they first lost out on then-free agent Carmelo Anthony, and now fell short in the attempt to acquire Love.
Not that they will complain about it.
The addition of Pau Gasol was a great bounce-back post-Melo, but a healthy-looking Rose is obviously the biggest addition the Bulls could ask for.
And while Love gives James a player that was 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a night last season for the Timberwolves, it is still a Cleveland roster with flaws, especially on the defensive end and in the post-season experience department.
What can’t be debated is how interesting the Central Division just became.
“I wouldn’t say the best in the league but we have a lot of competition in that division,’’ Rose said. “And playing against those teams every night you’ve got to make sure that you come out prepared, in a rhythm for a tough game.’’
The good news for the Bulls? There is still seven weeks before training camp and there is speculation that they still might try and make a move or two. The bad news? Cleveland has that same amount of time, and James on their side.