We all know by now that LeBron James has announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and potentially elevated them to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. But what does that mean for Carmelo Anthony’s decision? Should it mean anything?
The answer is an emphatic yes, assuming he actually cares about winning a championship before his career is over.
LeBron made it clear in the essay he wrote for SI.com that he doesn’t believe the Cavaliers are ready to win a championship right now and acknowledged that it would be a building process. If he is right, and he probably is, that means the east is still up for grabs for one, if not two more years, after which time the Cavs will become a fixture in the Eastern Conference Finals and most likely the NBA Finals.
That two-year window is what Carmelo should focus on and go to the team with the best chance to win immediately. That team is clearly the Chicago Bulls.
Staying with the New York Knicks, he is assured a minimum of two years of rebuilding in New York before that team is ready to contend. And that is assuming they capitalize on next year’s free agency class to surround him with the type of talent he needs to win.
If Carmelo were to take the Bulls’ offer and head to Chicago, that team would be an instant favorite to come out of the east and would be built in such a way to contend with the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers.
Now the Bulls aren’t in a position to offer Carmelo a max contract; the Knicks are. So it all comes down to where Carmelo’s priorities truly lie, and I think we all know the answer to that by now. Melo likes him some money. So do I. I’m not here to criticize — just calling a spade a spade.
But if Melo can look himself in the mirror and honestly say that he wants to solidify his legacy by winning a championship, he basically has two years to get it done. And he only has one choice to ensure the best chance of that happening.
But we all know what will actually happen. I can see it playing out before it even happens. He will take the money in Gotham. The Knicks will sign a couple of players, perhaps Rajon Rondo and Brook Lopez. And they will become a competitive team in the east that can’t get past the top tog. It will be like the 90s all over again.
Carmelo, the choice is yours: Fortune and fame or a place in history?