With a current record of 22-40 having won only four of their last 17 games, the New York Knicks are destined for the NBA Draft lottery. Another reality that the franchise will have to face soon enough: Carmelo Anthony will walk as a free agent.
Anthony has averaged 30.6 points per game during that losing streak but he’s got absolutely no help from his teammates. Very rarely do you see teams with a player as good as Anthony play so poorly that it could be considered “tanking.” To make matters worse, he’s only been out of the first round of the playoffs two times in his career.
Anthony is not on the level of a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant in terms of playmaking or elevating the play of his teammates, but nobody can blame him for wanting more help than what he’s got now in J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. As Frank Isola of the New York Daily News points out, Anthony has no interest in waiting until 2015 to play with other stars. Translation for this summer: Goodbye, New York.
If Anthony has placed a priority on winning a championship, he’ll turn down the $129 million extension the Knicks will offer and take his talents elsewhere to play with another star.
As I highlighted here a few months ago, the Bulls have started clearing cap space to potentially offer Anthony a max deal. After trading Luol Deng and then waiving Andrew Bynum, the Bulls saved nearly $20 million in cap space. They would still need to amnesty Carlos Boozer (highly likely to happen) and also trade Taj Gibson who’s due $8 million next season.
The biggest reason Anthony would sign with Chicago–a healthy Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. If Rose even gains 85 percent of his explosiveness back, Anthony paired with him and Noah gives the Bulls a big three that can rival Miami’s and Oklahoma City’s. Noah’s always been an impressive defensive player, but this year he has developed into a more efficient offensive playmaker as well and become an All-Star. The Bulls would be a legit contender with the scoring between Rose and Anthony combined with the defensive presence of Noah.
Los Angeles Lakers
Earlier this week, Kobe Bryant stated that the Lakers haters better enjoy this season while they can because “revenge is sweet and it’s quick.” Well, the only player the Lakers could really sign outside of LeBron that would turn them into contenders with a few other pieces would be Anthony. If the Lakers are truly trying to become contenders for Bryant’s last two seasons, signing Anthony gives them the best shot to do that. Furthermore, when Bryant’s contract is up in 2016, guess who will be free agent the Lakers could pursue? Kevin Durant.
Also, what should be made of the fact that Anthony and Bryant’s wives were spotted having dinner together without their husbands at a West Los Angeles diner before this season started?
Anthony could take a slight paycut and the Lakers could try to re-sign Pau Gasol on the cheap. With Jeanie Buss in the Lakers fold, she could persuade her fiance Phil Jackson back into coaching. Obviously, the right situation would have to present itself, as Jackson is not coming back to coach this current Lakers team. But Bryant, Anthony, Gasol and Jackson back in the triangle before the Black Mamba retires? Besides LeBron, signing Anthony might be the Lakers best case scenario to help Bryant get that sixth title.