According to various reports around the internet, the Bulls pitch focused on their ability to contend for a title right away, the health of Derrick Rose, and a chance for Anthony to get to know the whole organization.
BasketballInsiders had a nice succinct summary:
The Chicago Bulls spent Tuesday courting unrestricted free agent Carmelo Anthony, and brought out just about everyone in the organization to help with their pitch. According to sources close to the situation, the Bulls started their meeting with Anthony by giving him a tour of the United Center and then moved over to their new practice facility.
Later, the Bulls’ brass made a pitch centered around the fact that a core of Anthony, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson – with Tom Thibodeau coaching – would be able to contend right away in the depleted Eastern Conference.
While Rose had went on the record saying that he wasn’t going recruit Anthony to Chicago, he was very involved in the team’s courtship of the superstar free agent, according to sources close to the situation. While at the United Center, sources say that Rose went through a private workout to show Anthony that he’s healthy and ready to compete at a high level next season.
After meeting and discussing the team’s pitch, the group went to dinner at the Peninsula Hotel in downtown Chicago. Anthony, Noah, Gibson, Thibodeau, Jerry Reinsdorf, Gar Forman and Scottie Pippen were all in attendance at the dinner, according to sources.
So for all the handwringing, complaining, and whining fans
It would have been nice if Rose also attended the dinner, but it's hard to get on him too much given the workout. The biggest question for Melo about the Bulls has to be the health of its superstar, and we can only hope that Derrick Rose eased Melo's mind with the workout. However, beyond whether or not Melo chooses the Bulls, this is great news for Bulls fans.
First, it shows that while Rose may not spend his free time nudging and texting and convincing players to come to Chicago, it means he's still pretty willing to be part of the Bulls plan to bring in big name free agents.
Beyond that, this is the first real evidence we have that Derrick Rose is actually healthy. If he wasn't explosive and healthy, they would have never scheduled a workout as part of their recruiting pitch to Carmelo, because a poor workout would shut the door on his desire to sign with Chicago. The fact that they scheduled it at all means Bulls fans can start to let some excitement build over Rose's health for the next season.
Personally, I remain very skeptical of whether Rose can come back healthy. There just aren't many examples of guys who've missed two years with bad knees and come back, but it's a small sample size and each case is a little different. I doubt Rose's body is built to deal with the long term rigors of the NBA season, but if Chicago can squeeze two years out of him of legitimate championship contention that'd be a big win in my book.
As for Anthony, he hears the Rockets pitch today, the Lakers on Thursday, and he reportedly doesn't want to drag out the process of free agency too long and may make a decision shortly afterwards.
Jimmy Butler on the way out the door?
Jimmy Butler was absent from the Bulls pitch to Melo which indicates to me that there's a possibility the pitch includes trading him along with Dunleavy to free up enough cap room to pursue Melo.
Mark Deeks tweeted out that an executive he spoke with said he would give Butler a max contract, and he verified that the guy wasn't joking. As Mark noted, Butler's an analytics guys dream player because of so many of the things he does other than score.
If that's the case, let's find this executive and pitch Butler in a trade to their team. Butler will need an extension after this season, and if the market is particularly robust for him, it'd be far better to trade him now if an early extension can't be worked out. Beyond that, if the Bulls can land Anthony, it'd be great if they can move Butler for a first rounder or two in the next couple years.
That said, the Bulls will have a much stronger team if they can find a way to keep Butler on it while bringing Anthony in, but it seems pretty unlikely.
The Bulls included Taj Gibson in the pitch to Melo which would indicate that whatever plan they have to bring Melo on board involves keeping Gibson. The core was sold as Rose, Melo, Gibson, and Noah with Thibs coaching. This is where you look at the Bulls use of their draft picks and think it sure would have been nice if they had been able to get two quality players to improve the depth.
Kirk Hinrich seems likely to return for the minimum, and the Bulls would still have the room exception after signing Anthony if he came on board to bring on another guard, but given the money available around the league, the room exception isn't likely to land much in the way of talent.
It's a very real possibility that if the Bulls sign Anthony the team looks like:
Bench: McDermott, Smith, Bairstow, and a bunch of vet min guys
With Snell, Dunleavy, and Bulter all moving to create a larger offer for Carmelo, and the Bulls not having any means to bring Mirotic over this season unless he'd sign for the room exception (unlikely).
If Marcin Gortat gets 5/60, Deng's getting paid
One of my big fears was that Marcin Gortat would sign with Miami and plug their biggest hole. No need to be concerned as Washington signed him to a massive deal to keep him from exploring elsewhere. Gortat, who turned 30 in February, might be worth 12 million for a couple years. Maybe. However, this is one of those Josh Smith like deals that reeks of desperation.
It also shows how much of a players market this free agency period is. There's 20 teams with massive cap space, and bidding wars are going to get crazy. We were mocking Luol Deng in February for laughing at the Bulls 3/10 extension offer, but right now?
I'm betting Deng proves out to be right. Given how much money is available and how few players are, I wouldn't be surprised to see Deng get 4/60 or something similarly crazy, I'd be surprised if he doesn't get at least 4/48, and I'd be shocked if he doesn't land more than the 3/30 the Bulls offered.
Kyrie Irving agreed to a max deal to stay with the Cavs which wasn't much of a surprise and a good move by the Cavs.
Jodie Meeks agreed to a 3/19 deal with the Pistons which shouldn't be shocking given Stan Van Gundy's love of shooters and their need for some perimeter shooting to complement their interior big men.
I could be wrong, but my bet is we can kiss D.J. Augustin good bye. Someone's got to love him enough to pay him more than the Bulls can offer.
We'll see what day two of free agency brings.
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