Pros and cons of Bulls adding Anthony
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Maybe it's time for everyone to mellow out about these Carmelo Anthony rumors.
But the fact remains — Anthony can opt out of his contract with the Knicks this summer and Derrick Rose's camp has been interested in bringing Anthony to the Bulls as a primary scorer to complement Rose. At least, they were when Anthony was being shopped by Denver during the 2010-11 season.
Most likely, Anthony will become a free agent this summer and at least consider jumping to the Bulls or Lakers. So here's a look at the most relevant questions:
Why would Anthony leave New York?
Simply put, the team isn't performing. The Knicks made it to Round 2 of last year's playoffs, but they are saddled with two cumbersome contracts that extend through next season.
Amare Stoudemire is playing less than 20 minutes per game and his knees probably won't get any healthier, while Andrea Bargnani — currently out with an elbow injury — was a bad idea all along.
If Anthony is patient, though, the Knicks should have plenty of money to spend on free agents in 2015, after the contracts of Stoudemire, Bargnani and Tyson Chandler expire.
Why would Anthony want to join the Bulls?
This is obviously the key component to such a move happening. In theory, the Bulls would create an impressive nucleus with Anthony, Rose and Joakim Noah. But considering Rose has played just 10 games in the past two seasons, it's a risky proposition for Anthony.
Maybe that's an argument for Rose joining Team USA this summer at the FIBA World Cup, to remind everyone that he might still be a great player.
Will the Bulls have the cap space to sign Anthony?
We've covered this a few times before. The answer is no, even after using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer and dropping his $16.8 million from their cap number.
By using the amnesty clause (and they will), the Bulls would have about $10 million-$12 million in cap space, not nearly enough for Anthony. They'd have to dump Taj Gibson on a team with enough cap space to take on his $8 million salary for next season. That part is easy. Teams would be lining up to take Gibson off the Bulls' hands.
At that point, with $18 million-$20 million in cap space, the Bulls should be able to sign Anthony. An alternate method would be sending Gibson and the rights to Nikola Mirotic to New York in a trade.
Would Anthony make the Bulls a title contender?
Good question. During his 10 seasons in the NBA, Anthony's teams are 3-10 in playoff series. So this move is by no means a slam dunk.
But look at it this way: Boston won a championship in the first season after bringing together Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — three guys with middling playoff success previously.
In the NBA, you win with stars.
Oh yeah, Tom Thibodeau was the lead assistant on that Celtics team. That, more than anything, might be a reason for Anthony to seek Chicago.
If the Bulls landed Anthony, who else could they get?
That part would be a challenge. In this scenario, the Bulls have two guys making roughly $20 million per season (Anthony and Rose), while Noah is signed through 2016. Gibson is gone, Mirotic is out of the picture.
The supporting cast could include Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell, who are all under contract for next season. That's not a bad start, but to add extra players, they'd have to use either minimum salaries or the taxpayer midlevel exception of $3 million.
They would still have those conditional first-round picks from Charlotte and Sacramento. Also, Thibodeau has a history of getting a good return on role players. So supporting cast ranks low on the list of concerns.
What would the Bulls look like if they don't get Anthony?
They plug Gibson in at power forward in place of Boozer and use most of that $10 million-$12 million in cap space to bring Mirotic over from Real Madrid. The 6-foot-10, sharpshooting Mirotic has been described as the best player on the best team in Europe, but whether that translates to NBA stardom is anyone's guess.
They should have some cap room left after signing Mirotic and that might be the best part of this scenario. They could do some serious bargain shopping and try to land a legitimate shooting guard or another athletic big. If done right, the Bulls might resemble Oklahoma City, which is getting a great return on its mix of old and young role players.
Anthony turns 30 in May and Rose's long-term health is a great unknown. The organization probably feels confident that a team of Noah, Butler, Mirotic and maybe Rose can fill the United Center for years to come.
Even if Anthony is willing to join the Bulls, that last point might turn into the deciding factor.
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