The clock is ticking for Carmelo Anthony. He has until June 23 to opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks, which would pay him $23.3 million next season. Multiple teams are expected to recruit the small forward, offering him a chance to play for a contender with young stars already on the roster.
The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among the teams most interested in Anthony’s services. Which one of these teams is most likely to sign him?
We asked some of our Hoops Habit staff for the answer.
Phil Watson, Assistant Editor, @FurtherReview: The rumblings are that Chicago will do everything short of kidnapping ‘Melo, so my guess is that he’ll end up with the Bulls. The lure of playing with Derrick Rose (for 10 games or so, anyway) might be too much to resist, because that is something Anthony has never really had in his career–an elite point guard to play off of.
Nathan Giese, @NathanGiese: I feel like Melo ends up on a random team that has yet to surface. So far we’ve heard of Houston, Chicago, Dallas and Miami.
Houston would have to make a few trades to get cap space for Anthony to work and Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin don’t have great contracts to move. I don’t think Chicago really needs Melo. They’re a damn good team even when they haven’t had Derrick Rose because they’re so well coached. All they’re missing is some scoring. Obviously Anthony brings that, but I don’t see that happening right away.
There’s something holding up all of these teams right now, so I think there’ll be a surprise team that comes in and gets Anthony. Only thing I can say with confidence is that it won’t be New York and it won’t be the Lakers (although I’m sure Shane’s going to tell you otherwise). That’s my thought right now, anyway.
Shane Young, @YoungNBA: Chicago Bulls – This is more than just a tricky situation. It’s a decision that Carmelo Anthony will either live happily with, or regret in two or three years. Do you all remember when Tom Thibodeau publicly came out and said New York was his dream job? It indicates that he would love to coach Melo, and offer some defensive discipline that Anthony really hasn’t had enough of.
Combine that with the fact that Chicago will probably amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer (to relieve themselves financially) and Derrick Rose may FINALLY be able to play, and you have a shot. General Manager Gar Forman will have to re-assure Anthony that they can go after enough shooters and perimeter players to compete.
The problem has always been that their offense mirrors the Milwaukee Bucks when they’re without Rose, and you have to get backup plans if the former MVP goes down again. The league is projected to have a salary cap increase to $63.2 million, with the luxury-tax threshold hitting nearly $77 million.
Chicago would still need to make some moves to ensure their offer to Anthony is attractive, but it would already be far more attractive than one Miami could throw at him. Think about it: Who would leave nearly $10 million on the table? Who would want their legacy to tarnish horrifically? If Melo joins Miami, that’s what will happen.
Of course, he would win. But he could do that in Chicago, probably just as easily.
Gerald Bourguet, Assistant Editor, @GeraldBourguet: Chicago Bulls. The Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Miami Heat obviously are still in the mix, but the prospect of playing for coach Tom Thibodeau in the Windy City has to mean something to a guy like Melo, who’s still searching for his first NBA championship.
Building a super-team in Miami does nothing to repair his reputation of being an overrated superstar, so why not join a tough Bulls team whose defensive prowess could help mask the weakest area of his game? Chicago needs a scorer like Melo, even if Derrick Rose IS finally healthy, and he could help the Bulls pull the trigger on saying goodbye to Boozer.
Also, we have to mention that Chicago would have a much easier path to the Finals playing in the East, which could look drastically different next year.