And to think the free agency/hot stove period in the NBA had ended.
Talks of Carmelo Anthony wanting to leave Denver have reached an all-time high, especially with the news that Anthony has added Chicago to his short list of destinations. The news broke just a day ago, but it has been reported by Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com that Bulls tag team general managers John Paxson and Gar Forman have already begun the process of figuring out a package to offer Denver.
It is easy to say that a package of Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and draft picks sound nice, but Denver would have to have an owner worse than Donald Sterling running the team to accept that offer.
The big question for Chicago is whether or not Joakim Noah should be the centerpiece of an offer.
It is safe to say that Chicago fans are split over the thought of trading Noah. His energy is unmatched, his leadership is unanimously recognized by his teammates, and his defensive prowess has been officially noticed by the league. All this realized in only one breakout season.
Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, has been the main cog for Denver in what has been a stacked Western Conference for seven seasons. He has averaged 25 points a game for his career, and has put above slightly above average 6.5 rebounds a game.
Chicago needs consistency at two components of their game: defense and scoring. Noah offers defense, and Melo offers scoring. Who offers more of what ails Chicago's needs?
Consistency—over what could only be a flash in the pan—wins out every time.
Now, I don't want you think this is a Noah bashfest, because it is not. Losing Noah would leave a hole at the center position that back-up center Kurt Thomas could not fill on his own. Thomas's back-up would be Omer Asik, a Turkish center who is still at least a year away from producing at an NBA-accepted level.
If the trade were to happen, Chicago would obviously have to add another center. Here are the best options left via free agency.
- Josh Boone (RFA)
- Primoz Brezec (UFA)
- Steven Hunter (UFA)
- Randolph Morris (UFA)
- Joel Przybilla (UFA- early termination clause)
As you can tell, these aren't the greatest options, but they are ones that can get you through the season and into the playoffs. These five options have all shown to some degree that defense is a part of their game, and new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is one of the better defensive minds in the league today.
The Bulls could always add guys like Louis Admundson and/or James Singleton to create more depth at the power forward position if Gibson is added into the deal.
Money is always an issue, especially with the talk of a lockout after this season. Players want to get paid now in hopes that the lockout does not hurt their chances for money in the future. Lockout or not, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has gone on record saying that he would pay the luxury tax dollar for dollar if it brought him another ring.
If Carmelo Anthony is not a guy worth major money, then who else is? Yeah, we know: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are. It is a rhetorical question.
Is Noah a championship-caliber center? We can't say for sure. What we do know is that he needs his pay raise soon, as in next offseason. Remember that talk of a lockout?
Another player that needs a pay raise soon is Derrick Rose. Determining whether or not he's a guy who deserves the big money is a no-brainer. At this point, it can be said that Reinsdorf will give money to Rose because he will be a part of any championship in Chicago as long as he is in the league.
Anthony is a top scoring talent, and Reinsdorf knows the Bulls need scoring. Melo would get paid. But is Noah worth that money? Who knows? But if you can get a legitimate scoring threat for something that is not guaranteed, you have to make that move.
Another key component to this deal is that Anthony has never said on record that he wants to be traded. He has mentioned that he will be a free agent next year, but that he's a Nugget for now. That does not exactly scream "trade me!" For all we know, Denver management could just be blowing hot air at the media.
Look at the trade speculation as you wish, because it is just that—speculation.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both speculated about coming to Chicago, and we all know how that turned out. Until these rumors have legs, do not assume Anthony is a Chicago Bull. But if those legs become as long as Melo's, make the trade, add some stop-gaps in free agency, and get free agent interest in the offseason, barring a lockout.