Recent reports out of the New York Post state Carmelo Anthony has had an epiphany about his future as a Knick. While watching fans boo former New York Knick local boy Stephon “Coney Island Killa” Marbury during a Christmas game at Madison Square Garden, Anthony stated that he did not want to be the next “Stephon Marbury” or local boy scorned by New York fans. This story has produced in its frenzy what is being refereed to as Anthony’s short list which includes Los Angeles, New York and wait for it…. Chicago. Carmelo has a player option for his salary from the Knicks next season and could opt out of his contract and become a free Agent this summer. Which has woke up Bulls fans that have settled in for the long winter’s nap.
Anthony’s 25 point per game career average would place him 2nd on the Bulls all-time list behind Micheal Jordan, and for a Bulls team ranked dead last in scoring would be an intriguing option moving forward. However, he has long been criticized for his lack of defense and Carmelo is due 23 million next season and as a free agent would demand a yearly salary equivalent to that for the next 4 to 5 seasons. At 29 years old Anthony is getting longer in the tooth as NBA lifespans go, and would be under a new contract until he is 35 years old. The other teams on his list include New York and Los Angeles as he has stated he wants to play in a bigger market due to his many business ventures and for a team ready to be a winner.
First let’s look at L.A. which seems the perfect fit for Anthony’s life-style. The Lakers have the cap space to acquire him, but other then a hobbled Kobe Bryant are short on talent. So that doesn’t do much for his demand to play for a winner. Also, the Lakers are coached by former Knick coach Mike D’Antoni, which Anthony would not be warm to reuniting with for a second run. Next there is the Clipper’s which have a talented young team that includes Anthony’s close friend Chris Paul running the point. However, the Clippers are short on cap space and would have to trade away most likely Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan to have a shot at getting Carmelo.
Ok, so maybe Anthony could kiss, make-up and get back into a New York groove. The Knick’s would need to do a complete over-haul shedding the salaries of many of Anthony’s current team mates to put a team on the floor that could compete with the elite teams in the Eastern conference. However, even if they were able to shed the needed salaries, they would then have to get lucky in free agency and sign the right combination of players to build around Carmelo, not to mention that there coach Mike Woodson is not elite in the coaching ranks. Another option for him in New York is the Brooklyn Nets, which have the deep pockets to pay Anthony, but have zero cap space, and would have to shed Johnson, Pierce, Garnett to be in contention to acquire Anthony and have funds to build a team. Pierce comes off there books this summer and Garnett and Johnson could be moved in a salary dump to give them the cap space needed. Then all the Nets would need is a coach, because Jason Kidd is not enough to get it done. This all seems highly unlikely to get done before the summer.
Which leaves him with the only large media market left, The Chicago Bulls. The Bulls will gain 14 million of the funds needed when they watch Luol Deng walk away this summer, and resigning Deng would most likely have cost them at least the 14 million of this season and possibly upwards of 16 to 18 million. If you consider that Joe Johnson in 2010 signed a 20-24 million per year deal at the same age Deng will be, and that Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith signed last summer with new teams for 12 and 13 million. It is easy to see that Deng which is a two time All-star and would be resigning with the team that drafted him could get upwards of 16 million per, and teams that are not in the hunt could easily offer Deng a deal like Johnson’s 20 million per just to pursued him to play in there city. This makes considering the option of spending the money on a much more talented Anthony more appealing. However, Deng alone would not be enough and the Bulls would need to trade or Amnesty Boozer’s 16 million from there books before next summer just for starters. Considering there long term plans to play euro-leaguer Nikola Mirotic at power forward makes moving Boozer out key if they have any hopes on Anthony. The signing of Carmelo would get the Bulls an elite talent and place Rose in a 2nd option as a scorer. Which considering he has had two knee surgeries all ready in his young career seems smart money for the Bulls moving forward. They could bring over Mirotic and have two rookie prospects to add to the roster for next season. Which currently would be drafted 9th and 15th in next summer’s draft, and those draft positions could improve before seasons end.
Unlike Lebron James, Carmelo’s game is based on power, shooting touch and savvy moves. These attributes usually get better with age and will allow ‘Melo’ to have more longevity in his career. His lack of defense can be improved by being surrounded by defenders coached by coach Thibodeau, which Carmelo has a good relationship with off the court. When choosing sides in a pick up game, if the other guy selects Lebron first, it is hard to argue against Carmelo Anthony second and is something the Bulls need to think hard about before passing on a chance at such an elite talent. If ‘Melo’ wants to cement his legacy as a basketball player by winning the ultimate prize it is hard to not be serious about playing in the windy city.