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.
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