The San Antonio Spurs have defended the Alamo and freed the world the Miami Heat as champions. The rest of the summer should be the ordinary hum-drum for NBA fans, with the occasional snippet of games involving NBA talent. However, that statement may be the farthest from the true this year, and this summer could like 2010, be a free agency bonanza. Furthermore, with names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony in the mix, this summer could be revolutionary for some fortunate team that signs the right guy in the right situation.
This paradox is exactly where the Chicago Bulls see themselves, and they have been planning and scouting for this summer for many years. The uncertainty of Derrick Rose’s future, and with seemingly a lack of high level talent on the roster, the Bulls plan to be players in this summer’s bonanza and have hope in acquiring those final pieces that put them into the championship conversations once again. Standing directly in their foreground is the futures of Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Lebron James. Although, each situation is unique and worth examining from the perspective of a Bulls fan.
So let us start with the future of the self-proclaimed king Lebron James. The thought of James leaving Miami is on the surface ridiculous. He is playing for a two time champion in a state that not only has beautiful weather, but also no state income tax. So for a man set to clear 20 million in salary next season the tax saving alone should keep him in South Beach. The problem for James arises with the structure of Miami’s current roster, his cor-hurts Wade and Bosh also are due close to 20 million and the trio will cost Miami nearly their entire cap space moving forward. So without a championship to sell to perspective team mates, Miami will find it hard to fill a roster with quality players. This situation is familiar to James from his time spend in Cleveland. However, for James to leave Miami he will need a little more convincing. Eliminating one of the trio from Miami’s line-up should be enough to acquire the needed cap space to continue to build around Lebron. Although that decision is in the hands of Bosh and Wade, and neither seems warm to the idea of leaving the safety under Lebron’s cape.
Final verdict: Ego’s gets bruised, Lebron walks …
So now let us climb aboard the Love train. Kevin Love is a top tier talent, arguably near the tops at his position. He plays for a team that has yet to make the playoffs, with a mix of players that sometimes resembles the land of misfit toys. They have point guards that can not shoot, big guys that can not score inside, and add to that a front office the once selected point guards conservatively with the 5th and 6th picks. So it was no surprise he has stated he wants out of there. Although, leaving will not be his decision just yet. Love is due another year of salary before he can use his player option to free himself from the woeful wolf pack. As for the Bulls acquiring Love, that could happen either now, later or never. Now, would mean Minnesota excepts a package of players and draft selections all ready offered by Chicago, Later means Love is shipped elsewhere just to not resign with his new team or he stays in Minnesota then opts out next summer. I feel Love is the best fit for Chicago but acquiring him will need some patience and savvy. Although, with a poor man’s Kevin Love in waiting in Spain, I see the Bulls keeping the Spaniard Mirotic for less money and spending their cash elsewhere.
Final Verdict: Love gets traded at least once, and maybe wears three jerseys in the next year.
The era of Phil Jackson has started in Gotham. As the Knicks beloved zen master begins to reshape his circle of players into a triangle for success. Jackson hopes to bring his Knicks back to the championship coronation he shared as a player in 1974. Paramount in Jackson’s rebuilding is the future of Carmelo Anthony, and his decision of whether to stay or go. Anthony has stated he does not want to be another native New Yorker that fails to bring a championship to New York. As an NBA mind, I have the greatest respect for Phil Jackson and his ability to shape a team into a winner. However, taking players for rides on the Staten Island Ferry or giving them engrossing books to read will far short in keeping Carmelo in NYC. The Knicks have a slew of over-priced underachievers that will make reconstruction take more time than Anthony has patience. So I feel it is just a matter of time before Carmelo announces his decision to walk away from New York.
As for the Bulls, Anthony appears to be the highest valued target this summer, and his ‘looming’ decision has not stopped Chicago from positioning themselves to steal him away from New York. Anthony has stated a willingness to take less money to win a championship and appears to be concerned more about his legacy these days than his image. However, Chicago knows that they can avoid paying a kings ransom to New York in a sign and trade if they increase their leverage in negotiations. Since Anthony seem less interested in a max deal and more concerned on winning, the Bulls plan to strike hard. First, by ridding themselves of Carlos Boozer’s hefty salary and freeing up much needed cap space to sign Carmelo. Chicago also wishes to keep their two 2014 draft selections to continue to build the championship team that both they and ‘Melo’ so covet. Look for the Bulls to move out additional excess salary to be able to sign Carmelo without the need of a trade. This will allow them to keep assets like the before mentioned draft selections and the rights to Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls front office sees Anthony as the better investment because of their ability to keep more of their core and assets intact.
Final Verdict: Carmelo stays in New York, and never wins a thing with Jackson.