With Carmelo Anthony having said he plans on exercising the early termination option in his contract to explore free agency this summer and with the New York Knicks’ season not living up to expectations (OK, it’s a train wreck) at 15-26 (tied for 10th in the East at the midpoint of the season), there is a great deal of buzzing about Anthony’s future.
First among the buzzing is the question of whether or not Anthony’s future and the Feb. 20 trade deadline are destined to come together. And if the Knicks do decide to move ‘Melo, a la the Denver Nuggets in 2011, the Chicago Bulls are being mentioned as a possible destination.
Does he fit?
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider pondered that question and came up with an answer that looks simple on paper (or pixels), but in reality could be a nightmare to bring together.
Doolittle’s proposed trade looks like this:
No, under Doolittle’s proposal, the Bulls would have to sweeten the deal with the rights to Nikola Mirotic and a couple of first-round draft picks.
Mirotic is a 21-year-old power forward who currently plays for Real Madrid. He was originally drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in 2011, had his rights traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night, then had his rights traded again to the Bulls the same night in exchange for Chicago’s picks that night at No. 28 (Norris Cole) and No. 43 (Malcolm Lee), plus cash.
The native of Montenegro is 6’10” and 220 pounds, who is averaging 18.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 13 games for Real Madrid this season and he’s considered by some to be the best player in Europe.
Of course, getting Mirotic to the stats might be difficult; the Spanish paper Marca reported last month that Real Madrid is attempting to extend Mirotic’s contract, which already runs through 2015-16 but contains a $2.5 million buyout this summer.
Boozer’s role in the trade would be purely a salary dump to make the money work.
So the question then becomes whether or not the Bulls would rather invest their immediate future in a player who turns 30 years old in May or with a player who turns 22 next month.
Anthony has played 751 games in his career and could play up to 41 more in the regular season this year. Let’s say he does that—just for the sake of not trying to speculate on how injured or “injured” he will be late in the season when the Knicks have a better idea of where they are in the playoff hunt.
That puts him at 792 career games and 30 years old by the time 2014-15 begins.
I’m a believer that for most players, the wall is there and it’s very real. The wall, of course, being the 1,000-game mark. Legs just don’t respond the same way when a player gets to that point. We’ve seen it with the adjustments Michael Jordan made later in his career, the adjustments Kobe Bryant has made later in his career, the reduced effectiveness of such high-energy players as Kevin Garnett once they’ve hit the wall and many other examples.
So, in essence, the Bulls would be trading Gibson—a solid rotation player/borderline starter—plus the rights to Mirotic and two future first-rounders in exchange for the remaining 200 or so games of Anthony’s prime.
Does anyone else think that’s insane?
Derrick Rose is still young—he’ll be 26 by the time next season starts. Mirotic is more than eight years younger than Anthony.
If Anthony is there in free agency, maybe make a run at him, while also negotiating to bring Mirotic to the U.S.
But I can’t see any reason to mortgage the future Brooklyn Nets-style to get two or so years of an Anthony-Rose pairing that could be eerily reminiscent of the tenuous partnership formed by ball-dominant ‘Melo and ball-dominant Allen Iverson in Denver.
In this case, future potential would seem to outweigh “right now” impatience.