You may have had an unbelievable summer this year, but Carmelo Anthony had a better one.
It was just last month when Anthony agreed to stay in Manhattan with the New York Knicks for five more years, in which he announced on his website that he’s “looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams.”
After traveling across the country to hear proposals from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, teams that would have been willing to build around him in order to give him his first championship ring, which is something that ‘Melo has been desperately seeking since his departure from the Denver Nuggets in 2011.
That’s why there was such a high probability that the 30-year old was leaving the Big Apple because let’s face it, even Phil Jackson can’t single-handedly turn around a basketball team that failed to qualify for the playoffs after winning a mere 37 games last year.
But money talks, especially when a team is preparing to offer $24.4 million per year over the next five seasons. It may not have been a max deal that Anthony was expecting during his free agency search but being able to continue playing in his hometown for $124 million in total was something that he couldn’t pass up, especially since the Knicks will be aggressive in the summer of 2015 in their search for some of the top free agents to improve their talent, including Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Anthony also said that his heart never wavered while visiting the other teams that were actively pursuing him this offseason.
So essentially, the Brooklyn native chose loyalty over winning, in which is former college basketball head coach Jim Boeheim from Syracuse disagrees with.
According to 2010’s Naismith college coach of the year, Anthony should have signed with the Chicago Bulls if his decision was solely based on basketball.
“Just from a basketball point of view it would have been better to go to Chicago because they’ve got better players,” Boeheim told Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. “But he wanted to be in New York and he wants to see if they can turn it around there. I think that’s a great thing.”
There’s no denying that the Bulls will be a better basketball team in 2014-15, especially since that a healthy Derrick Rose will be back in the starting lineup for the first game in late October.
Plus, the Bulls have also improved their roster by amnestying Carlos Boozer and replacing him with Paul Gasol. At 34-years old, Gasol will be a tremendous upgrade from Boozer, who will bring a productive presence to the front court for the next three years. In seven years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game.
They have also brought in pieces for the future by acquiring both Nikola Mirotic from Spain and rookie Doug McDermott. Add these two with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich and Rose, and you have a team that can easily bulldoze their way into the playoffs as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
However, Chicago could only offer Carmelo a contract worth $74 million, per Begley, or approximately $50 million less than what Anthony accepted with Jackson and the Knicks.
When it came down to working with the Zen Master and keeping your wife La La merry by staying in New York , Carmelo couldn’t pass that up, even if it meant winning a championship as early as this season.
Boeheim also told Begley that if James Dolan didn’t hire Jackson as their president of basketball operations, Carmelo would be donning another team’s colors.
“I would think so. He stayed because he believes Phil,” Boeheim said.
Two things that I can take away from this interview. 10 Boeheim knows what he’s talking about and 2) Anthony is gambling on too many things with the Knicks.
Since becoming head coach of the Orange in 1976, Boeheim has been to four Final Fours and nine Big East championships. He has also won a national championship back in 2003 and two gold medals as an assistant coach for Team USA.
The 69-year old also coached Anthony during their title run more than a decade ago so it’s safe to say that he knows what’s best for Anthony on a basketball standpoint.
For the 2014-15 season, the Knicks will feature an overpaid and underperforming basketball team led by first-year head coach Derek Fisher. Having Carmelo back on the roster will make life easier for Fisher, however, the five-time NBA champion’s first attempt at being a head coach won’t be a walk in the park.
Utilizing the triangle offense this season, Fisher will have to inspire everyone else on the roster in order to have a chance in getting back to the postseason. It was clear that the Knicks gave up on Mike Woodson last season, which led to a 37-45 record and Woodson getting the boot following the end of the season.
Overall, the Bulls are clearly a better team that could have given ‘Melo an opportunity to win in a less amount of time.
Despite losing in the first round in two of the last four tries, Chicago has made it to the postseason every year since the hiring of head coach Tom Thibodeau back in 2010, who also happens to be an assistant coach for team USA with Boeheim.
The furthest Chicago has advanced in the playoffs was when the team had a heathy Rose on the roster, in which they made it to the conference finals against the Miami Heat in Thibodeau’s first year in the Windy City.
So what has prevented the Bulls from reaching an NBA Finals appearance? A lack of scoring from players not named Derrick Rose.
During their first-round series against the Washington Wizards last season, the only time Chicago reached the 100 point mark was during Game 3, their only win of the series. In Game 5, the Bulls scored a disappointing 69 points, with Kirk Hinrich leading the team with 16 points while shooting 6-of-11 from the field.
If Carmelo signed with the Bulls, they would have added a player with a shooters mentality who could have taken the pressure off of Rose, who took 15 field goal attempts and 4.8 three-points shots per game back in 2010-11, the last time Rose played an entire season.
But in this day and age where money can buy happiness, it’s hard to imagine Anthony leaving $50 million on the table to play for another team in an environment that’s unknown to the seven-tine All-Star.
A possible championship can lure a player like Anthony, but like he said on his website following the agreement of a new deal back in July, “In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart.”