The Carmelo Anthony parade moved to Texas on Wednesday, where he met with the Houston Rockets early and Dallas Mavericks late.
The Bulls were left to sweep up the confetti (figuratively) following Tuesday's long visit with Anthony. The plan moving forward is relatively clear if Anthony signs with the Bulls. They'll add a significant scoring threat and scramble for inexpensive backups.
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NBA free agentsHere's how Mike McGraw sizes up some (but not all) of the NBA's available free agents:
Heavy hittersCarmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks
Luol Deng, SF, Cavs
Paul Pierce, SF, Nets
Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors
Lance Stephenson, SG, Pacers
Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers
Comment: After Carmelo and Miami's Power Trio, the impact players fall off pretty quickly. That's good news for Deng, who should be in demand.
Not going anywhereLeBron James, SF, Heat
Dirk Nowitzki, SF, Mavs
Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
Chris Bosh, PF, Heat
Boris Diaw, SF, Spurs
Comment: Wade and Bosh will take pay cuts; James won't.
RestrictedChandler Parsons, SF, Rockets
Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Kings
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Suns
Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz
Comment: Good group, but will be tough to pry any of these guys away from current teams.
BallhandlersD.J. Augustin, PG, Bulls
Kirk Hinrich, PG, Bulls
Ramon Sessions, PG, Bucks
Darren Collison, PG, Clippers
Steve Blake, PG, Warriors
Devin Harris, PG, Mavs
Jameer Nelson, PG, Magic
Luke Ridnour, PG, Hornets
Garrett Temple, PG, Wizards
Aaron Brooks, PG, Nuggets
Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat
Comment: The Bulls need backups for Derrick Rose. Hinrich might return for the minimum salary, but it's not clear what Augustin will do.
ScorersRay Allen, SG, Heat
C.J. Miles, SG, Cavs
Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pistons
Nick Young, SG, Lakers
Vince Carter, SG, Mavs
Anthony Morrow, SG, Pelicans
Evan Turner, SG, Pacers
Comment: Thin class of 3-point shooters. Good thing the Bulls landed one in the draft.
WingsTrevor Ariza, SF, Wizards
Shawn Marion, SF, Mavs
Thabo Sefolosha, SG, Thunder
Caron Butler, SF, Thunder
Michael Beasley, SF, Heat
James Johnson, SF, Grizzlies
Comment: Ariza is in demand after strong playoffs vs. Bulls. Butler reportedly received a call from Bulls on July 1.
Big menSpencer Hawes, C, Cavs
Andray Blatche, PF, Nets
Ekpe Udoh, PF, Bucks
Ed Davis, PF, Grizzlies
Chris Kaman, C, Lakers
Nazr Mohammed, C, Bulls
Comment: Tough to find quality big men these days. Mohammed might come back, despite the limited playing time.
The Bulls feel good about their chances of landing Anthony and believe they have a good connection with his agent, Leon Rose, who accompanied his client on the trip to Chicago.
But what happens if Anthony doesn't pick the Bulls? This is a good time to examine Plan B, since it will be a few days before there's any conclusion to Anthony's whirlwind tour.
The alternate plan is not as predictable, but a few steps seem likely.
• Clear some cap space: The Bulls would probably follow through on plans to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer. With that done, they'd have around $11-12 million in cap room to spend on free agents.
• Sign Nikola Mirotic: This might happen either way, because they could add Anthony in a sign-and-trade and have the midlevel exception (around $5.5 million) to use on Mirotic, the 6-foot-10 sharpshooter who's been a star for Real Madrid.
If Anthony doesn't join the Bulls, it should be easy to find the money for Mirotic, although it's conceivable they could wait a year. Mirotic would give the Bulls bookend tall shooters, joining rookie Doug McDermott.
• Keep the options open: Next on the Bulls' agenda is a meeting with Pau Gasol in Los Angeles. Why Gasol? It doesn't make a ton of sense to bring on Gasol to share the power forward spot with Taj Gibson.
One explanation is the Bulls might be able to create more cap space to sign Anthony outright by trading Gibson to the Lakers and adding Gasol for less money. Or maybe they envision a three-big rotation with Gasol, Gibson and Joakim Noah if Anthony stays away. Oklahoma City is also said to be pushing hard for Gasol.
• Consider a trade: If they can't get Anthony, Minnesota's Kevin Love could be a backup target. It's not clear how motivated the Timberwolves are to maker a trade. They might let the season begin and deal before the trade deadline if Love refuses to sign an extension.
• Add some talent: One thing about this year's free-agent class, after Anthony and Miami's Power Trio, the star power drops off quickly. There isn't an obvious target for the Bulls if Anthony gets away.
With a projected roster of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Greg Smith, Anthony Randolph, Noah, Gibson, McDermott and possibly Mirotic, there aren't any gaping holes on the roster. A backup point guard and a reliable scorer would be the biggest needs.
Which free agents fit those roles? Well, either Kirk Hinrich or D.J. Augustin could return as the second point guard. The Bulls reportedly contacted Ramon Sessions. For a scorer, the choices would be guards such as the Lakers' Nick Young, Detroit's Rodney Stuckey, New Orleans' Anthony Morrow or Portland's Mo Williams, among others.
The Bulls probably wouldn't have much interest in Indiana's Lance Stephenson or Evan Turner. They did spend considerable time with Michael Beasley before the 2008 draft, so he may not be out of the question. Oklahoma City's Caron Butler reportedly got a call from the Bulls on July 1.
Houston's Chandler Parsons would be a prime target, but as a restricted free agent, he'd be tough to acquire.
For now, the Bulls wait for Anthony's saga to play out. The first step is to convince him that Chicago is his best chance to win now, then hope Knicks president Phil Jackson is open to sign-and-trade scenarios.
There's probably nothing to the rumor circulated Wednesday that Anthony was turned off by the Bulls' first contract offer. With so many different scenarios on the table, no reasonable negotiator would drop an offer like that on the first day. One league insider thought the rumor might have been a competitor's attempt at sabotage.
Houston caused a bit of controversy Wednesday by posting signs of Anthony wearing a No. 7 Rockets uniform. The Bulls did the same thing, but the Rockets already have a No. 7 -- Jeremy Lin -- on the roster.