Report: Chicago Bulls 'Increasingly Optimistic' About Landing Carmelo Anthony

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 21, 2014

USA Today

The NBA salary cap is reportedly rising, and with it, Carmelo Anthony's chances of joining the Chicago Bulls as a free agent this summer.

Per Marc Stein of ESPN:

But sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Bulls—even before these developments came to light Friday night via noted NBA salary-cap expert Larry Coon—were already feeling increasingly optimistic behind the scenes about their chances of convincing Anthony to leave the Knicks in the wake of New York's failure to make the playoffs.

No matter what Chicago does, it can't offer 'Melo the fifth year or extra cash the New York Knicks can. But by amnestying Carlos Boozer and trimming salary elsewhere, the Bulls can make a very competitive pitch in the neighborhood of $16 million-$18 million per year.

More aggressive moves involving trades or buyouts could push that figure to nearly $20 million.

With so many variables, Chicago's cap specifics are tough to pin down. But one thing's for sure: The Bulls' chances of adding Anthony are better than ever.

There's no question 'Melo would address a major need in Chicago. Anyone watching the Bulls struggle to score all season (they ranked 28th in the league in offensive rating, per NBA.com) knows the team desperately needs somebody to put the ball in the hole.

And the closing stretch of Chicago's Game 1 loss to the Wizards drove that point home even more forcefully.

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Anthony's penchant for isolation basketball doesn't lend itself to high-efficiency offense, but there's really no way for the Bulls to be any less efficient on that end anyway. They'd gladly take a handful of 'Melo one-on-one sets to close out games at this point.

Slotting Anthony alongside recently crowned Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, per NBA.com, a healthy (fingers crossed) Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson would create a terrifyingly good starting five. Potential moves to clear cap space in order to get 'Melo might mean the bench is a little thin, but with a lineup like that, it won't be difficult to attract bargain vets on cheap deals.

There should be concerns that Anthony will disrupt the Bulls' blue-collar, defense-first identity. But it seems clear now that the Bulls are a notch below championship contention as long as they struggle to score this badly. So a gamble on Anthony could be worth it.

Besides, 'Melo has already articulated his respect for head coach Tom Thibodeau and his system. Perhaps the transition will be smoother than expected.

If Anthony only cares about winning, he'll sign a league-minimum deal to join LeBron James in Miami or Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. If he only cares about money, he'll re-sign with New York for a max deal.

If he wants the best of both worlds, the Bulls are suddenly a very enticing option.


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