Since they traded Luol Deng away for essentially nothing but draft picks, Chicago Bulls fans have been clamoring about the possibility of Carmelo Anthony signing in the offseason. The story has been built up for months with reports of Joakim Noah recruiting Anthony, Anthony’s desire to win a ring, Anthony’s admiration of head coach Tom Thibodeau, and, in recent weeks, Anthony’s indecision about playing for a title with a pay cut in Chicago or taking the money and hope Phil Jackson is as good as he claims in New York.
Carmelo Anthony preferred the latter. Every major reporter is now confirming Frank Isola’s initial report from several days ago that Anthony will rejoin the New York Knicks. There are various reasons why Anthony’s decision may have come today instead of Thursday like Isola reported. The three most likely reasons are: 1) the Bulls’s late push had him second guessing his initial decision; 2) the Knicks refused to play ball on a sign and trade; 3) Anthony didn’t want his decision to clash with Lebron James.
It’s hard to fault Anthony for staying in New York. Though he wants to win a title it’s incredibly difficult to uproot your family and comfortability, leave your childhood favorite team, and turn down $129 million over 5 years for the unknown. Chicago may have provided the best shot at a title for him, but as we’ve seen anything can happen in the NBA and nothing is guaranteed… except the money.
The future for both the Knicks and Bulls look completely different at the moment.
At present the Knicks look like a fringe playoff team at best as Cleveland, Indiana, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte, Toronto, and Miami should all be better than them. But the future may look different for New York as many bad contracts come off the books next offseason. Despite his tenure with the Knicks started off rocky by failing to get Steve Kerr as a coach, Phil Jackson can use that open cap space to lure bigger name free agents to the Big Apple and point to the fact that a superstar has bought into his and Derek Fisher’s vision.
Meanwhile the Bulls seem to be closing in on a deal with Pau Gasol which gives Chicago arguably the best front court with Noah, Gasol, and Taj Gibson and easily the best passing front court duo in Noah and Gasol. With Nikola Mirotic on the horizon and Doug McDermott now on the roster, the Bulls should have some floor spacing as well. At present it isn’t known if the Bulls will sign Gasol outright or via a sign and trade. The means by which Chicago acquires him will affect their ability to add scoring on the wing, an major issue for Chicago for the past four years. In either case though the Bulls should be a top 3 team in the Eastern Conference, provided Derrick Rose can remain healthy.
The Bulls are still juggling a lot of free agent options at once so this offseason is far from done. At this point at least Chicago has some clarity and can make swift moves to set the team up to make a run to the NBA finals in a wide open Eastern Conference.