Carmelo Anthony Is Not The Answer

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony at Madison Square Garden in New York

If Carmelo Anthony is the answer to your problems, you’re asking the wrong question.

Melo is seen as a solution to this latest Bulls rebuild, somebody who can speed up the process and make the Bulls an NBA title contender again next season.

Get a lottery pick, sign Carmelo, have Derrick Rose return healthy and add it all to a core of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler and the Bulls will be healed! Which is a fine theory, but also a flawed one.

That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to hear plenty about Anthony in the coming months as we slog toward the end of this Bulls season, hoping for losses and a ping pong ball to bounce our way this spring. The reason you’ll have so much Melo in your life is that, like LeBron, he has the ability to opt out of his deal following the season. And wouldn’t you know it? He’s reportedly considering the Bulls!

Anthony wants to play for a winner, but desperately wants to play in a big market because of his business ventures — his Jordan Brand sneaker line, his PowerCoco energy drink, his watch deal.

That is why New York, Los Angeles, where he has a home, and even Chicago are on his short list, according to a source.

The Bulls would intrigue Anthony, too, because he has a lot of respect for coach Tom Thibodeau, according to a source.

Get excited, everybody. The Bulls are about to be used as leverage by a free agent again. It had been so long, I hope my bridesmaid dress still fits. I haven’t been working out as much as I should.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s pretend Anthony would actually come to Chicago. Let’s imagine he would leave the biggest market in the country and take less money to come to Chicago. Even in this play world where anything is possible Anthony wouldn’t help bring the Bulls a championship.

When Carmelo Anthony was taken with the third pick of the 2003 draft by the Denver Nuggets — after Detroit took Darko Milicic, mind you — he was going to be one of the next great NBA players. He was going to singlehandedly make the Denver Nuggets a force in the NBA. Except he never did.

Carmelo would spend nearly eight seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 24.8 points per game and 19.3 shots. During his time in Denver the Nuggets would reach the playoffs in every one of Melo’s full seasons, but only get past the first round once. Melo would get to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 before losing to the Lakers.

Two seasons later he convinced the Nuggets to trade him to the one place he wanted to be. Oh, the Bulls were mentioned as a possible trade partner at the time, but the Knicks were always the destination. It didn’t matter what anybody else wanted to believe, Melo wanted to play in Madison Square Garden.

And so, on Feb. 22, 2011 Melo was shipped to New York as part of a three-team trade. He couldn’t save the Nuggets, but it didn’t matter, now he was going to restore the Knicks to their rightful place amongst the NBA elite.

Here we sit, nearly three years later and now Carmelo is talking about opting out of his contract because he “wants to play for a winner.” So I guess saving the Knicks didn’t work out.

There’s a reason for this, too. You can make the argument that Anthony hasn’t had that great second player alongside him during his career. He hasn’t had his Scottie Pippen. To a degree,  you’d be right, but that’s not the reason he hasn’t won big.

The simple fact is that Carmelo has never become the player he was envisioned to be after coming out of Syracuse. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of the better players in the league, and has been throughout his career, but he’s never been a great player, he’s always been a great scorer. A volume shooter who shoots better than most.

He’d be a great player to have on your team alongside your superstar. He’d be a great Scottie Pippen. The Bulls just don’t have that player to pair him with right now.

I don’t know what the future holds for Derrick Rose, all I know is that he can’t be counted on. I hope he’s brilliant when he returns, because if he is, any rebuild plan the Bulls choose will have a greater chance of working.

But what the Bulls can’t do is pay Derrick Rose $17.6 million and Carmelo $22.5 million (I asked around, and the belief is Melo’s max deal with the Bulls would be worth about $96.1 million over four years) a season. Those salaries combined are $40.1 million. This season’s salary cap is $58.6 million, and while I don’t know how much higher it’ll go next season — the NBA salary cap may as well be written in Japanese because holy shit I don’t get it — that doesn’t leave the Bulls a lot of wiggle room. Especially when you factor in Joakim Noah ($11.1 million) and Taj Gibson ($7.5 million).

The Bulls would have to go over the luxury tax to make all of this work, and we all know damn well Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t going over the luxury tax if he doesn’t have to. That’s why Luol Deng is a Cavalier right now.

Not that the Bulls should go into the luxury tax for Rose and Melo anyway. Does going into next season with nearly 70% of your cap space tied in a 30-year old volume scorer and a young kid coming off two knee surgeries in two seasons seem like a solid plan to you? It doesn’t to me. To me it feels like a plan that’s just good enough to see the Bulls get bounced in the second or third round of the playoffs. Which is exactly where they have been.

So, yes, those of you who think Carmelo is a shortcut, you’re correct. It’s just that he’s a shortcut to getting the Bulls right back to where they were: watching the Miami Heat win the NBA title.

Keep up to date with everything in Chicago sports by following The Chicago Homer on Twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Carmelo Anthony Is Not The Answer

  1. Just curious, not in an a-hole tone, what would your preferred plan of action be? Gordon Hayward? Lance Stephenson? No major acquisition? I assume any player that the Bulls would want that could make a championship-level impact in this upcoming free agency class (now known as the last summer the Bulls will have a decent amount of cap room for awhile) will require a max contract, especially because so many of the upper tier free agents are restricted. I’m not sure attacking the Melo plan from a financial perspective makes a lot of sense since landing any player on the open market these days is basically a max contract or close to it if you’re relying upon them to be at least a second scorer. We only have so much longer of Derrick being in his prime after 2 knee surgeries now and Joakim about to turn 29 with a history of injuries (thumb, foot, groin, etc.), so I don’t think a couple million dollars a year for a few seasons should change the course of action. Besides, if Melo is so desperate to land in the aforementioned big markets, and the Lakers and Bulls are the only two he’d consider since the Nets and Clippers are in terrible financial position to sign him right now, maybe there is a possibility of slight discount since the Bulls are much more of a winner at this point than the Lakers are. I highly doubt it, but not impossible.

    I also think a team that relies on Carmelo Anthony alone is doomed, but if he is a 2a option along with 2b Jimmy Butler and some solid post players in Noah, Gibson and Mirotic, do we really need him to ball out every night? I hate people who try to defend Melo being a good second option on a championship contender by using the example of the Olympics. I mean after all, the level of competition he faced, the support he had on that team, and not to mention that it will have happened over 2 years ago from the time we potentially get him makes that argument irrelevant to me. I do think that it’s not out of the question however to see a team that uses him as a catch-and-shoot guy that can also create his own shot when needed to be successful. I can’t say I watch a lot of Knicks games, but just from watching him when he plays the Bulls, he always destroys us when he’s set up from the perimeter and he always attacks baseline against us and scores at will all by himself. Since he’s joined the Knicks, he has never scored less than 21 points us, and over half of those games he has scored over 30 on us. I’m not saying that’s why we should get him, just thought it was an interesting stat that probably is influencing my thought process here. I think you need star players to be able to make big plays in the playoffs if you want to advance. The Bulls only have 1 in Derrick Rose and that’s when he’s healthy. Carmelo is not a top 15 player in this league anymore, but he would bring that total 2 and make us pretty dangerous. He offers a lot more than Deng did in his prime and I think we can all agree Butler is a long shot to ever reach that level. I would take the gamble, since the championship window seems to be closing (especially if Thibs is not down for a rebuild), but I’d love to hear your plan.

    Anyways, love this idea of Chicago Homer. Looking forward to more of your writing.

    • I don’t know the answer. Nobody does. I just know that if the plan is to win NBA titles then paying Carmelo Anthony more than $23 million a year until he turns 35 isn’t the way to go about doing it.

      There is no quick fix. Which is why this rebuild is so risky.

    • Jimmy Butler is not a second option nor third option on any team he plays for, I would take Melo unless their plan is to go hard after Kevin Love or KD in the next couple of years in which case I hold off on the Melo deal but try my hardest to get into this lottery, and if Mirotic doesn’t come over this year I say the Bulls try and package a deal to the TWolves before next offseason involving Mirotic for Love.

      • Yeah the end of my comment said that Butler is a long shot to turn into any sort of huge shot-maker or go-to scorer for us, but to think he can’t be a serviceable third scorer for us if we had Melo with teams using their best two perimeter defenders on Rose and Melo is laughable. I think most teams would kill to have Butler as their third perimeter option. The problem is he isn’t our third perimeter option right now. Without D Rose I agree his offensive game takes a huge blow, but my comments are made assuming he has a point guard to help space the floor.

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