CHICAGO -- Carmelo Anthony says he wants to win a championship. The Bulls desperately want to add a second superstar to pair alongside Derrick Rose. They're also willing to clear out enough cap space to acquire Anthony, or another superstar of his ilk, in the summer. It sounds a like a match made in heaven -- right?
Well, not really.
The odds of landing Anthony have always been small given how much he seems to want to stay in New York. But even if he left the Knicks, would the Bulls be the next best option for him? It's a question Grantland's Bill Simmons tackled while discussing Carlos Boozer's contract in a recent column on the worst deals in the NBA:
- The single dumbest basketball conversation you can have right now …
Bulls Fan (excited): "We're gonna be fine this summer — we're amnestying Boozer and trading Taj so we have enough cap space to sign Melo."
Non-Bulls Fan: "Why would Melo go from one shaky situation to another one?"
Bulls Fan: "What? To play with Rose and Noah! And Thibs!"
Non-Bulls Fan: "You really think Thibs is re-signing there? They fired his lead assistant last summer, then they traded Deng for nothing. Literally, they got nothing."
Bulls Fan: "Yeah, but it's gonna be fine — we're getting Melo!"
Non-Bulls Fan: "Melo wants to win a title — why would he roll the dice with Rose's knees? Rose is coming off two major knee injuries. By next October, he wouldn't have been 100 percent in two and a half years. There's a long history of guys missing that much time with repeated injuries and never being totally the same.
Bulls Fan: (Silent.)
Non-Bulls Fan: "Look, I'm not saying Rose can't make it back. But why would Melo risk it? Wouldn't he want a more stable situation? Especially after what he just went through in New York? He's going to tie the rest of his prime to Derrick Rose's knees?"
Bulls Fan (finally): "Yeah but still."
Simmons shines a light on a line of thinking Bulls fans have considered, but haven't fully come to grips with. From here on out, Rose's health hovers over every single thing the Bulls do. No matter how much salary-cap space the organization has, no matter how many young pieces the Bulls feel confident building around, no matter how many assets the front office piles up -- the single biggest recruiting job Gar Forman and John Paxson must do is to assure any prospective free agent on the health of Rose.
It's the toughest job the pair will have, especially this summer, given that there is no tangible evidence that Rose will be able to stay healthy for an entire season. Worse yet for the Bulls, there's no evidence that Rose will come back to being the player he was before he tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012. Why would Anthony, or any star, decide to come to Chicago with so much uncertainty?
It will be up to Forman and Paxson to talk any free agents through the worries they may have around Rose. The Bulls remain hopeful that Rose will come back off his latest surgery, and have been pleased with his recovery to this point, but no matter how many different doctors' reports they see over the next few months, they won't have an answer until the former MVP starts playing in games again.
That's the most jarring part of any potential addition the Bulls might make this summer. Rose has gone from a player almost anyone in the NBA would love to play with, to a potential liability that the Bulls must work around as they build for the future.
Anthony and several other players will have a decision to make this summer as to whether they want to play in Chicago. But Anthony has to wonder if a core of Noah, Thibodeau and Rose would be enough to make the jump as the prime years of a superstar career are in fadeaway. Most of all, Anthony must decide if he can count on Rose being healthy during his potential tenure.