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updated: 3/9/2014 8:22 AM

Can Bulls really recruit Carmelo?

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  • The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony reacts after scoring during the first half against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

    The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony reacts after scoring during the first half against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
    Associated Press


Where there's smoke, inevitably, there's firemen.

But where there's fog, just as certainly, there is confusion and a cloud of uncertainty.

Witness the Bulls and the reported flirtation of some players with Carmelo Anthony.

The reaction from Bulls management, specifically Tom Thibodeau, was predictable.

"It's a bunch of nonsense. People just start throwing stuff out there and they wait for everybody to respond to it," Thibodeau said before Friday's loss to the Grizzlies. "If you waste time on stuff like that, then you're not thinking about Memphis. So that's all we're thinking about."

That's the essence of Thibodeau. He is the ultimate "next man up" coach, and since he can't put Anthony in the lineup, he's got no cause to think about Anthony. Put him on the roster, and Thibodeau will figure out how to make it work.

Until then, watch tape, go to practice. Watch more tape, maybe sleep. Get up, watch more tape, coach a game. Watch more tape. Probably not sleep. Watch more tape.

Players are different. They let coaches figure out how to win a given game, but many spend their free time wondering when they're going to win a championship.

According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Joakim Noah took advantage of the all-star festivities to begin recruiting Anthony. Broussard wrote that Noah said to Anthony, "Look, you can go to Los Angeles. But if you want to win a ring, if you want your legacy to be about winning, come to Chicago."

Anthony's response, said Broussard, was, "I've been watching you guys. I admire how hard you play. I admire how hungry you are. Oh, and by the way, my son's favorite player (is) Derrick Rose."

Noah's response Friday was interesting, to say the least.

"What are you talking about? The gossip going on?" Noah said. "We're talking about July 1 right now? Come on. I understand you guys are doing your jobs, but I've got to do my job.

"I think we all know that we're in a good place. Our team is in a good place. We've got a healthy group. It's a healthy environment, and we're not going to let gossip get in the way of what we're doing.

"You want me to address that? I don't feel like addressing it. I really have nothing to say."

Classic non-denial denial.

There's obviously some truth to it, as Noah didn't dismiss it out of hand.

Maybe Noah has figured out that trying hard, outworking every team in the NBA and winning regular-season games is admirable but doesn't mean the Bulls are good enough to win an NBA title.

Noah has made himself into a heck of an NBA player, but he's 29 and perhaps figuring out that even though he's in his prime he doesn't have forever and without adding a superstar the Bulls are doomed to years of second-round exits.

Derrick Rose, who has refused to recruit anyone -- including LeBron James -- is also interested in bringing in Anthony, according to Broussard.

While highly entertaining, the Anthony conversation is at best a reach unless Bulls management is willing to move some players it considers part of the core, players the Bulls have fallen in love with.

Bulls execs don't tend to move their guys under far less crucial circumstances than these, so unless there's a change in philosophy, it seems unlikely the Bulls would be able to create space for a $20 million salary.

But what if -- what if? -- they realize that without another superstar, the Bulls are going to go through season after season of wishing they could reach the NBA Finals but knowing they really can't?

If that happens, if they really understand that, a genuine attempt to bring in Anthony becomes a real possibility.

Talk about highly entertaining.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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