It’s no secret that over the past few months — really since the All-Star break when Joakim Noah allegedly talked to Carmelo Anthony about coming to the Chicago Bulls during this upcoming free-agency period — Melo wants out of the New York Knicks‘ organization and to sign with a contender, specifically the Bulls.
The latest out of Anthony’s camp is that a recent meeting with Knicks officials didn’t really “faze” him and that he is merely awaiting teams such as the Bulls or Houston Rockets, as both teams were named recently according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, to clear enough cap space to sign him.
With the NBA Finals potentially (hopefully, right?) coming to a close tonight and free agency just around the corner, the likelihood of Anthony signing with Chicago continues to increase. And it certainly appears that the Bulls’ front office is certainly gearing up for a run at him as they’ve already announced Taj Gibson as the starting PF next year, meaning Carlos Boozer is definitely out. His $16 million or so would be off the books with an amnesty meaning they’d only have to clear another $3-4 million to have enough space to sign one of the NBA’s top scorers. That could be done with a simple trade of Mike Dunleavy for just about anything in return, more than likely a second-round pick.
Some worried that Phil Jackson‘s arrival to Madison Square Garden would tempt Melo into accepting his player option and playing out his final year with the Knicks, but it seems that won’t be an issue. Anyone can see that the Knicks will not be ready to contend next year with all of their terrible contracts still on the books for that season, and it’s clear Anthony wants in on a more stable organization. He wants to play for a championship as soon as possible, and with a team that’s proven it can win consistently.
The Bulls fit the bill perfectly and out of all the championship-caliber teams out there, they have the easiest path to securing the cap space needed to make a move of this magnitude.
Pulling off this type of signing would be huge for Chicago, and doing it in free agency, rather than through a sign-and-trade, is a huge plus for the Bulls. They’d get to keep all of their draft picks, and considering they have two in the top 20 of this loaded draft (I know, saying that is a little cliche now), that’s a major benefit.
If all goes the Bulls’ way in this scenario, the starting lineup in 2014-15 would be Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Anthony, Gibson and Noah. Tell me a better starting five and I’ll call you a liar. To top it off, they’d have two top-20 draftees (assuming they don’t trade up with their two picks) as rotational players, could probably re-sign Kirk Hinrich cheaply to be a backup and would have a situation similar to that of the Miami Heat‘s where good, veteran free agents will sign for the minimum just to try for a championship.
For such an aspiration to be achieved, though, it all starts with Melo, and the stars seem to be aligning right on cue.