No Carmelo Anthony? Bulls have options

Updated 7/3/2014 4:55 AM
  • The Lakers' Pau Gasol, back, shares a momemt with teammate Kobe Bryant.

    The Lakers' Pau Gasol, back, shares a momemt with teammate Kobe Bryant. Associated Press

  • The Bulls' Joakim Noah blocks a shot from the Lakers' Pau Gasol. The Bulls plan to meet soon with Gasol, who is a free agent.

    The Bulls' Joakim Noah blocks a shot from the Lakers' Pau Gasol. The Bulls plan to meet soon with Gasol, who is a free agent. Associated Press

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.

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.

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