Among potential free agents in this NBA off-season, Carmelo Anthony is the biggest name. There aren’t too many reasons for him to stay with the New York Knicks if becoming a champion as soon as possible is his main ambition, while playing for the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks seems to offer a much better opportunity.
Anthony has the opportunity to opt out of his contract with the Knicks, which means skipping the one year he has left, and venture into free agency, something he hasn’t done previously in his career with the Knicks or the Nuggets. While re-signing with the Knicks keeps him in the biggest market and offers him the opportunity to earn more money, adding Phil Jackson to the front office and Derek Fisher to the coaching position doesn’t make them contenders. Far from it with the roster they have.
An option of joining the Miami Heat if everyone takes a big pay cut for next season has also become something of a trend recently, but there are too many moving parts, too many ifs, to take it seriously at the moment. Teams like the Bulls, Rockets and Mavs who seem to be looking for one more piece in order to see themselves as contenders for the NBA title are more likely destinations at the moment, although it will take some creativity financially.
The Bulls can go after Anthony only if they amnesty Carlos Boozer, but that alone won’t be enough. They’ll need the Knicks to do a sign and trade with them, or work some sort of trade for other players like Taj Gibson (almost certain he’ll be included because of his $8 million salary). However, if Anthony will be willing to take a significant pay cut (to $8-9 million a season???) then the Bulls won’t have to thin their bench even further to make it work.
The Mavericks have only $31 million committed to salaries next season. They’ll probably want to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki on a reduced salary but overall, there is potential there, especially if they manage to add someone like Anthony, who won’t have to take up too much cap space, to Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. It remains to be seen who’ll be playing defense on such a team and how Nowitzki and Anthony share a possession together, but on paper it sounds very intriguing.
The Houston Rockets looked like contenders this season but fell in the first round of the playoffs. No defense and bad coaching doesn’t help out even when you got the talent. It’ll take trades to get Anthony for the Rockets – Omer Asik and not him alone (probably Jeremy Lin as well, or maybe Chandler Parsons after signing him to a bigger deal). Once again, on paper it sounds nice, but Harden, Howard and Anthony on the same floor? One ball won’t be enough.
The Bulls are probably the best fit for Anthony. They can afford having someone who isn’t a great defender on the team, and it’ll take a lot of pressure off of Derrick Rose, not to mention finally giving them a shooter. It seems Anthony wants things that aren’t very easy to give him. A contender that can pay him and keep its core intact. Maybe the Heat offer will turn out to be the most feasible. It’ll be an interesting summer.