It has been well documented that the Chicago Bulls are more than interested in acquiring Carmelo Anthony. And this past week, he visited the Windy City to meet with the front office to hear what the team had to offer.
Of course, the Bulls are not the only team interested in acquiring his services. This list also includes the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and of course, the New York Knicks.
Although the Bulls brass were confident about their pitch to Anthony last week, Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard of ESPN reported late Saturday that the Lakers made a lasting impression with Anthony, turning the “Melo” sweepstakes into a three-team race between Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
That being said, let’s see how these potential suitors stack up against one another.
Los Angeles Lakers
Yes, Kobe Bryant is set to make his return to the Lakers next season. Yes, the Lakers drafted a young talent in Julius Randle, whose averages included 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest for Kentucky during his freshman season.
But let’s be realistic here, the fact that the Lakers had the seventh pick in the draft proves they are at least a few years away before they can be considered a team capable of challenging for a title. Bryant is the ultimate competitor who will do all he can to make sure the Lakers are not totally irrelevant, but when it is all said and done, the Lakers are not the place for Anthony.
Here is one more thing to think about. Dwight Howard, who played for the Lakers in 2012-13, chose not to return to Los Angeles while leaving a substantial amount of money on the table in the process.
He made that decision because he felt that another team would offer him a better chance to compete for a championship.
Need I say more?
Let’s move on to the next team on the list.
New York Knicks
As everyone knows, the Knicks are the only team that can offer the max deal of five years for a total of $129 million, which could work in their favor. In addition to that, it doesn’t hurt that the team president is Phil Jackson–a guy who knows a little something about winning as he helped guide two different teams to 11 championships.
However, the Knicks were not a playoff team last year, and without Tyson Chandler, who was recently traded to the Dallas Mavericks, anchoring the paint, the Knicks have lost one of the few players on the roster who was capable of playing well on the defensive end.
And because of their salary cap situation, the Knicks will not be able to pursue free agents until next summer, which essentially means that Anthony would have to wait at least a year before the Knicks are in position to assemble a championship-caliber roster.
Let’s look at the negative side of the conversation first. The Bulls can only afford to pay Anthony about $70 million for four years, which means he would be taking a pay cut in the neighborhood of $60 million in comparison to what he can make in New York.
On the flip side of the coin, the Bulls offer more from a talent standpoint. For example, the Bulls have a double-double machine in Joakim Noah, who had the best year of his career this season.
Noah also won the Defensive Player of the Year, and his passing ability should complement Anthony’s game quite nicely.
In addition to that, Taj Gibson, who is mostly known for defense and rebounding, came into his own this year on the offensive end, scoring a career-high 13 points per game. If Anthony chose to sign with the Bulls, they would have one of the most formidable front courts in the eastern conference, if not the entire league.
But hold on, I’m not done yet. Like the Lakers, the Bulls also have a franchise player who will be returning to the lineup in Derrick Rose and the last full season he played, his averages included 25 points and more than seven assists per contest.
And what is also worth noting is Rose is 10 years younger than Bryant, which means the window of opportunity to compete for a title is much longer with Chicago than it would be with Los Angeles.
Last, and certainly not least, let’s not forget about Chicago’s head coach. One of the reasons why the Bulls are an attractive destination is because of Tom Thibodeau, who always manages to get the most out of his players while instilling a defense-first mentality.
To bring the point home even further, Anthony respects Thibodeau’s coaching philosophies and Thibodeau has often spoken favorably of Anthony’s skill set. Based on the mutual respect these two have for one another, it would seem that pairing the two together would be a match made in heaven.
So to recap, the Lakers can provide Anthony with the opportunity to join Bryant and form a roster that would include two of the league’s dynamic scorers. But they cannot provide Anthony with a legitimate shot to compete for a title in the near future.
And being that Anthony is 30 years old, this has to be a factor as he makes his decision on where he wants to play next season.
The Knicks can pay Anthony more than any team, but like the Lakers, it is no guarantee they will be able to acquire the necessary pieces to become title contenders in the near future.
In contrast to the two others teams on the list, the Bulls have a roster that would enable them to become title contenders immediately with Anthony in the mix–something that neither the Lakers or the Knicks can offer. Chicago also has the better coach in place to help Anthony take his game to another level.
Despite that the Bulls offer the best chance for Anthony to win a title in the immediate and long-term future, he will more than likely re-sign with the Knicks for three reasons:
- He would not have to uproot his family, a concern he has mentioned multiple times.
- Anthony likes New York and considers Madison Square Garden as one of the premier arenas in the league.
- Although the Knicks are at least a year away from being in a position to add pieces to their roster, according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, Anthony liked what he heard from Jackson during their meeting on July 3, which more than likely means that Anthony is buying into what Jackson is selling. And who can blame him? If you like your current employer, and the company is willing to offer you top dollar–thus providing you and your family with security, it would be wise to stay put.
Unfortunately, for Bulls fans, what this means is that another elite player turned them down and they will have to move on to plan B as was the case four years ago.
James Tillman is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com and a sports contributor for Football Nation and Sports Kings/Pass The Pill. James is also a former Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network.