The terrible season the New York Knicks are going through makes it seem more and more possible that Carmelo Anthony won’t stay with them next season, opting out of his contract. But instead of going to the Los Angeles Lakers, which is what most expect him to do, certain rumors and sources point towards the Chicago Bulls being his preferred destination.
Anthony, who is making $21.3 million this season has one more season on his contract with the Knicks, but also an early termination option, like other big deals on the roster (Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani). Unlike the other two, there’s a very good chance Anthony doesn’t return for the final year of his contract. He’s had a decade to be a star and great scorer in the NBA, but there’s a very good chance he wants more than that.
But on the Knicks, who are 16-27 so far this season, drifting further and further apart from a playoff spot this season, the chances of him actually competing for an NBA title seem to be very slim in the near future. Too many big contract which won’t enable them to make significant changes this offseason, reducing the chance of Anthony re-signing with them, at least when looking at it from a professional standpoint.
Many are suggesting that the Los Angeles Lakers should be the team with the best shot of signing him. Next season the Lakers have only four years against the cap: Steve Nash ($9.7 million), Kobe Bryant ($23.5 million), Nick Young (Player Option, $1.2 million) and minimum deals to Kendall Marshall and Robert Sacre. Nash might retire at the end of this season, so that leaves only $27 million against the cap, and plenty of space to sign Anthony to a max deal.
But according to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports, Chicago is a place Anthony would much rather go to. The Lakers don’t seem like a team that’s going to compete for anything in the near future, while the Bulls seem to be more unlucky than anything else that they haven’t been able to do more than the Conference finals since 2011, with injuries getting in the way.
Can the Bulls sign Anthony? Right now they’re on the books for $65 million, but there have been talks about Carlos Boozer being amnestied, which takes it down to $48 million. That’s still not going to be enough to sign Anthony (unless he decided to take a major discount), which means they’ll either have to trade a few players to make room for him.
Likely? Not so much. As talented as Anthony might be, it requires too much moving around and probably getting rid of players the Bulls would love to hang on to. Part of trading Luol Deng was in order to give Jimmy Butler an extension – he might not be superstar money worthy, but he can easily make more than $2 million a season on any team. Anthony doesn’t really fit the defense-first ideology as well.