Anthony to Bulls? Follow the money

Updated 3/4/2014 11:29 PM
  • The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, shooting over Bulls forwards Carlos Boozer (5) and Jimmy Butler (21) on Sunday at the United Center, is well aware of the buzz about someday soon playing for the Bulls.

    The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, shooting over Bulls forwards Carlos Boozer (5) and Jimmy Butler (21) on Sunday at the United Center, is well aware of the buzz about someday soon playing for the Bulls. Associated Press

The Bulls put on a nice show Sunday for Carmelo Anthony, future free agent and potential Chicago real estate shopper.

The possibility of Anthony eyeing the Bulls this summer has been well-documented. But something else happened Sunday that showed why the move is unlikely. Joakim Noah continues to establish himself as one of the league's most valuable big men and probably will merit a salary increase when his contract expires in 2016.

If Anthony did jump to the Bulls, here's a preview of the payroll: Derrick Rose is set to make $20.1 million in the 2015-16 season. Anthony makes $21.7 million this year with the Knicks.

Anthony could get a bigger overall contract if he stays with New York, but the Bulls are allowed to pay him as much as the Knicks could next season -- $22.56 million, or a 5 percent raise from what he made this year.

Anthony might be willing to accept less money to join a team with a better chance of winning, but it would be unrealistic to think the Bulls would get a deep discount. Maybe Rose would give the Bulls a generous hometown discount when his maximum deal expires in 2017, but that's a long way off.

More than likely, adding Anthony would mean the Bulls paying two players $20 million-plus per season. Then there's the matter of re-signing Noah in 2016, probably at a bump from the $14.2 million he'll be making.

Of course, signing Anthony also would mean trading Taj Gibson to open enough cap space, using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer and most likely trading the rights to Nikola Mirotic. In this scenario, the Bulls' roster would include Rose, Anthony, Noah, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell and whatever players they can snag at a low price.

It's possible this could be a championship lineup. The problem with committing so much money to three players is if it doesn't work, the team is handcuffed. High salaries are tough to unload, which makes moving on to Plan B a difficult chore.

Let's see, what could possibly go wrong by rewarding a proven player with a maximum-salary contract? There has got to be an example somewhere in Bulls history where that turned out to be a problem.

Meanwhile, Anthony admitted to noticing signs in the crowd at the United Center encouraging him to make the jump to Chicago. One in particular caught his eye.

"It was a good sign," he said after the game. "I mean the kid went to art class."

Asked his thoughts about the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau, Anthony stated the obvious.

"I don't know, man. They always are a team who's going to be there, who's going to compete, who's going to play hard," he said, according to the New York Daily News. "For whatever reason that is, I don't know if it's their system, if it's Thib's system. For whatever reason they're always going to be there and compete."

The Bulls took Tuesday off after turning in a clunker performance at Brooklyn on Monday night. They committed 28 turnovers against the Nets -- the highest total by any NBA team this season -- after turning it over a franchise-low three times against New York.

"The highs and lows of the NBA. It's all part of the journey," New York native Joakim Noah told reporters after the game. "Playing in front of your family, playing in front of your friends. You lay an egg. They did a good job tonight."

The Bulls still feel good about winning nine of their last 11 games and going 21-9 since Jan. 1. They'll play Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich., before returning for a six-game homestand.

"Sometimes you're not going to play great," Thibodeau said in Brooklyn. "When you don't play great, you have to bounce back and get the next one."

• Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls.

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