As the NBA Finals set to take place, there have already been plenty of rumblings and grumblings of NBA Superstars potentially on the move before we hit the NBA free agency period. Quite frankly, a lot of it has to be take with a grain of salt. A lot of it can be smoke screens for the upcoming NBA Draft, jockeying for position for the upcoming season. But for the sake of this article, we're going to take a look at a potential free-agent barring an opt-in or opt-out provision in his contract: Carmelo Anthony
Anthony, 29, endeared one of his worst season's this year for the New York Knickerbockers. And I don't mean he averaged 14 points and 5 rebounds per game. Statistically, he averaged 27 points per game and a career high 8.1 rebounds per game. What I do mean is that the Knicks were an absolute tragedy on the basketball court. Not looking in sync throughout the entire year. Injuries certainly don't help, as Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and even 'Melo himself were in and out of the lineup. Raymond Felton was also injured throughout the year and arrested for gun possession. Needless to say, the Knicks did not in any way, shape, or form live up to the expectations they set for themselves after having a half decent run in the playoffs the previous year, defeating the Celtics but then losing to the Miami Heat, the eventual NBA Champions. After failing to land a postseason birth, speculation about Carmelo's future arose quickly with reports that he was already set to opt-out of his current deal which has one year remaining at over $23 million big ones. Enter Phil Jackson. The Zen Master was brought in to help right the sinking ship that was the Knicks towards the end of the season, quickly rebuild the roster, and most of all, keep Anthony in New York. Will 'Melo stay in New York? Phil Jackson has a lot of work to do if he wants to keep 'Melo for the foreseeable future as there are plenty of teams lined up for his services.
After losing Derrick Rose to another torn acl, the Bulls lacked any remote volume scorer, often relying on their defensive prowess. The speculation has been there for Carmelo landing in Chicago at some point. And with rumors also swirling that they are also interested in acquiring Kevin Love, you have to wonder if 'Melo would also follow. The Bulls are already a top 3 or 4 team in the Eastern Conference without Rose, so gaining Anthony and potentially Love would make them a very dangerous team. Acquiring just Anthony still makes them very dangerous, as Rose has never had a go to player like Carmelo. It would round the Bulls out as an all-around team as Carmelo can score with the best of them. The only issue holding him back would be his defense, so you have to wonder if he would buy into coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive philosophy. Looking at a starting lineup of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson, Carmelo, Mike Dunleavy/Jimmy Butler, and Derrick Rose, makes them extremely competitive something that makes going to Chicago very appealing. Acquiring Kevin Love could make it very enticing as this would more then likely be his best chance at a championship.
This rumor has picked up steam in just a short few days and makes a little sense. As another team that involved in the Kevin Love sweepstakes, the Celtics could also use a prolific scorer to pair with star point guard, Rajon Rondo. In this case, it sounds like this would be more of a package deal in the sense that if Love goes, then 'Melo would then follow suit. I don't see any scenario where Carmelo goes there on his own to play with Rondo without knowing that they will get another star player such as Love. Not Greg Monroe, Larry Sanders, Omar Asik, or any play of that caliber, would be enough for Carmelo to want to go to Boston. It only makes sense for him to go take less money in Boston to pair up with Rondo and Love (if acquired) to form a new big three and even then who knows if it would be enough to court him, as the Celtics would need to build a deep supporting cast for him to go. But it appears as if Kevin Love is the X-Factor in the Celtics situation. Should the Celtics land the T-Wolves star, look for them to potentially pull the full-court press on 'Melo by dangling the fact he has never played with a pass first point guard, and superstar power forward. Speaking with CSNNE's Gary Tanguay on twitter, he believe's there are legs to the Love and 'Melo rumors especially after seeing Love in Boston last week. So the potential for a big three in Beantown again is plausible.
Carmelo to the Lakers has been talked about for a few season's now. While I'm certain it would be appealing to play with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, you'd have to wonder if at all it would work even for the couple season's Kobe has left on his deal/career. Yes, the two played on an Olympic team together, winning Gold in the process, but you have to wonder if the two could co-exist in LA LA land. They are both the same type of players in that they both need the ball in their hands to be successful. It is also possible that he could be the successor to Kobe when he does decide to hang them up, becoming the new face of the Laker franchise. There is not a ton to be desired in the form of a roster in LA, so outside of Kobe, Gasol, and Steve Nash, landing Carmelo will be very tough to do. He may want to become the face of the historic franchise and continue the me-first, ball hogging label attached to himself, but without assurances of building a comptetive roster, landing him could be tough. Maybe they enter the Kevin Love fray and lure him in that way.
A little bit of a reach here. Brooklyn is gaining a little bit of cap space this offseason, as Paul Pierce and players such as Andray Blatche and Shaun Livingston come off the books. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has made it pretty obvious that money is just an object to him as he spent an arm and a leg acquiring the likes of Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry(now in Sacramento), Joe Johnson (year prior), and extending Brook Lopez. So he does not care about money, obviously. While it may sound out there a bit, it does make some sense. Cap space aside, a lineup that would feature the likes of Lopez, Williams, Johnson and 'Melo, the Nets could look to make a very deep postseason run in a very weak Eastern Conference. The question is and always will be, "Can he co-exist with such and such?" In this situation, he absolutely has to. But who know's how well he would take this. Would he jump onto the other side of New York anyways?
This one has been rumored for a year or so. Carmelo pairing up with Dwight Howard and James Harden could make one of the deadliest big three's. This would be tough to attain as Houston would have to free up some pretty serious cap space to do so. While researching this, I had almost forgotten that backup center Omar Asik is scheduled to make upwards of $15 million dollars in an extremely backloaded contract. If they find a taker for that contract and maybe offload one or two more people, look for Houston to pounce on 'Melo if they have the opportunity. Maybe trade could work for the two as New York is also looking for draft picks. In doing so, I'm sure Houston will want the assurance that he would sign a contract extension. Should he land in Texas, Houston not only becomes better, they become elite as they were already an extremely deep roster. The question becomes "Can Harden and Anthony co-exist?" And that is a good question only because since landing in Houston, Harden has become the West's version of 'Melo. A volume scorer that needs the ball in his hands at all times in order to be successful. While it looks sexy on paper, I'm not so sure they could co-exist along with Howard who is a little high maintenance in his own right.
New York Knicks
This is what I think is more likely. As I mentions earlier, if he opts to stay with the Knicks this season, he would earn over $23 million dollars and become a free-agent at season's end. He would still be young enough to land another lucrative contract from any team that is interested. It's essentially a win-win for him as at that point, he can control his own destiny, sign a max contract whether that is with the Knicks or does it via a sign and trade. The question becomes "Will the Knicks build a better roster around him this year? Will they build him a better roster to make him stay passed this season?" We won't know until that happens. For Anthony's sake, you wonder if he's in win now mode or if he still wants to get payed. If he leaves via free agency this year, he will do so making less then what he would if he stay's in New York (poor guy). But at the end of the day in all likelihood, I believe he stays in New York and collects that fat check.
Speaking on twitter with Redsarmy.com's John Karalis, he told me this is most likely scenario. Talking about the money and the type of supporting cast's that other team's would have to create to lure 'Melo away from the Knicks. It also seems that Kevin Love is the key to a lot of his potential moves, as they could be connected to a potential big three wherever Love lands, something Anthony should think about it. There is nothing wrong with that. Especially if he is in win now mode as it would make for a very potent big three wherever they both land.
Wherever 'Melo lands, he is still going to make a lot of money. He's going to be the most prolific scorer on his team regardless of where he lands. He just has to ask himself if he wants the money in New York or if he is willing to leave home and go play for a ring.