It’s like a bad horror movie. Now that New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has officially passed on — that is, gotten sick and tired of — trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls have popped back up on the ‘Melo Trade Radar.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
“Anthony has long been enthusiastic about a possible trade to the Bulls, but Denver and Chicago officials had been previously unable to come to terms on a deal. Bulls executives John Paxson and Gar Forman have investigated the possibility of acquiring Anthony, but thus far haven’t been willing to include the one player the Nuggets most covet: center Joakim Noah. Anthony’s agents are under pressure to make a deal happen for the All-Star forward, who sources said has become an increasingly unhappy client.
“Nevertheless, William Wesley – Worldwide Wes – is expected to travel to Chicago for Bulls games on Thursday and Saturday against the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers, a source said. Wesley unsuccessfully pushed LeBron James to sign with the Bulls as a free agent, and now has an interest in Anthony ending up there. Wesley represents Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for CAA.”
Note the “Wesley unsuccessfully pushed LeBron James to sign with the Bulls” part.
Anyway, Woj goes on to say:
“Chicago has wanted the Nuggets to take forward Luol Deng as a cornerstone to the deal, but Denver hasn’t been interested in absorbing the three years and $40 million left on his contract after this season. The Nuggets want an array of young players and picks the Bulls will have a difficult time providing. Still, Chicago badly needs another scoring option and Anthony is one of the NBA’s elite offensive players.”
While there’s no questioning whether ‘Melo is an elite offensive force, the debate about his relative efficiency rages on. The Bulls could certainly use some extra scoring punch — although I’d prefer an upgrade at the shooting guard position — and Anthony could provide that.
But is ‘Melo an ugrade over Luol?
As of today, Anthony is averaging 23.5 PPG while shooting 43.5 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from downtown and 80.4 percent from the line. He has an eFG% of 44.9 percent, a PER of 20.3 and 2.6 Win Shares. His Offensive Rating is 105 and his Defensive Rating is 107.
Deng is scoring 17.8 PPG while shooting 45.3 percent from the field, 34.7 percent on threes and 72 percent on free throws. He has an eFG% of 50.2, a PER of 14.8 and 4.4 Win Shares. His Offensive Rating is 108 and his Defensive Rating is 103.
Note that Luol’s Usage Rate is 21.5 while Anthony’s is 32.0. ‘Melo has a more varied offensive skill set than Deng, and that has an awful lot of value. But in terms of pure production, Deng is on par with ‘Melo despite a lower rate of use. Plus, he’s shooting more efficiently and contributing more to Chicago’s wins than Anthony is to Denver’s (if you buy into the concept of Win Shares). Plus, Deng is a much better defender.
‘Melo may be an upgrade over Deng. He may be. But how much?
And, assuming the Nuggets would take Deng in a trade — and there’s no evidence to suggest they would — what else would the Bulls have to give up?
If Denver won’t take Deng, what would they want in return? Draft picks no doubt. They also want young players. That would probably mean Taj Gibson. But can the Bulls afford to lose Taj? Think about how critical he’s been with Boozer and/or Noah out. We all know about Boozer’s injury history, and Noah has now missed significant time due to injuries in back-to-back seasons. That makes frontcourt depth critical.
I’m not sure I feel comfortable relying on Kurt Thomas.
If the Bulls could do a ‘Melo-for-Deng-and-draft-picks swap, that might work. Although, again, I’m not totally sold on the idea that Anthony is a better fit than Deng. After all, would there be enough shots to go around for Rose, Boozer and Anthony? Would a guy who has averaged nearly 20 shot attempts per game and is used to being The Man fit into Chicago’s offense?
Ah well. It’s all speculation right now.