With the 30-year-old forward, the Knicks can be a relevant team in the ultra-shallow Eastern Conference. Without him, the 37-45 team from last season will officially need to enter rebuilding mode. That's why all of New York is left waiting with bated breath as the star decides where he'll make his home for the next few seasons in the NBA.
Fortunately for New York, it's beginning to look like the Knicks just may have their centerpiece back in orange and blue next season after all. Here's a roundup of the latest reports surrounding his free-agency courtship.
Derrick Rose Not Heavily Involved in Carmelo Chase for Bulls
In today's NBA free-agency landscape of former AAU buddies and Nick Saban-esque recruiting, teams rely on current players to really sell potential free agents on joining them in the search for the title.
For the Chicago Bulls, it's been well-documented that Joakim Noah has played a big role in trying to woo Anthony to play his home games at the United Center. However, the Bulls' recruiting pitch didn't feature a whole lot of another noteworthy player—Derrick Rose.
Chris Broussard of ESPN detailed the star point guard's involvement in Anthony's visit to Chicago:
Sources: DRose was not part of Bulls' official recruitment of Melo. He just happened to b working out at UC. Was shocked to see Melo— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 4, 2014
While Broussard reports that Rose was "shocked" to see Melo there, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported that something feels amiss about the situation:
As I reported night before Bulls' pitch, Joakim Noah planned to meet Carmelo Anthony and urged Derrick Rose to come. He knew Melo was there.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 4, 2014
Meanwhile, Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago noted a possible connected storyline to watch with the Bulls organization:
The disconnect between the Bulls' front office and Rose's camp only seems to be growing deeper over time.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) July 4, 2014
Whether or not Rose knew about the meeting is really irrelevant. The bottom line is that he wasn't reportedly a big part of the recruiting process, and that could be seen as a lack of interest in playing with Anthony.
The star forward is certainly a fit from a basketball sense. The Bulls have more than enough defense to make up for Anthony's deficiencies on that side of the floor, and he is the go-to scorer that Rose has so desperately needed.
However, this bizarre episode has to engender questions about how much Rose wants to play with Anthony—or with the Bulls for that matter.
Kobe Bryant Friendship May Be Overstated
One line of thinking heading into Anthony's free agency was that his friendship with Kobe Bryant might lead him to combine forces with the Black Mamba in Los Angeles.
However, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the connection between the two superstars will likely have little to do with his decision:
There isn't as much of a friendship between Anthony and Lakers star Kobe Bryant as has been portrayed, according to a person who knows both players well. And besides, with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher in New York, along with Spaniard Jose Calderon, there is hope that Lakers free agent Pau Gasol might opt to switch coasts and join Anthony rather than continue toiling in the wildly competitive West.
The key takeaway for Knicks fans here is that not only does it appear Bryant isn't going to sway Anthony, but his sidekick in Los Angeles may be interested in joining the Knicks.
New York doesn't have much in the way of cap flexibility, but if it can convince him to take the tax payer's exception, he could be a difference-maker for the Knicks.
Knicks Still the Favorite?
With Anthony's visits to Los Angeles and Chicago not exactly generating a ton of buzz for him to sign in either location, it raises the question: Is New York in the lead?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the team's own meeting with its marquee star went quite well:
Yahoo Sources: After meeting, Carmelo Anthony left comfortable with Phil Jackson's vision for shaping a contender. http://t.co/04mVtCSJO3— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2014
Wojnarowski reports that Anthony had specific questions for both new president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher regarding their plans for the franchise and walked away comfortable with their plan.
When it comes down to Anthony's final decision, this has to be considered great news for Knicks fans. It's fun for NBA fans to think of all the NBA 2K-esque scenarios in which Anthony could build a "super team," but leaving would ultimately cost Anthony a guaranteed $30 million that he can't make anywhere else.
Add in the fact that Anthony already has established roots in New York, and it's looking more and more like the star whom Jackson can build around is already in New York. With the opportunity to lock him to a max contract extension for five years, Anthony's ability to go all-in with the Knicks may just be his best opportunity.