Bulls' talent could be big draw
If Carmelo Anthony really leaves New York because he wants a chance at a title, the only choices are Miami or Chicago.
Yeah, yeah, you can't count out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. I'm not challenging you Kobe, please don't dunk on me. Miami is Miami and LeBron is LeBron, but the Bulls are ready-made for a superstar like Anthony.
The Bulls have a do-it-all center in Joakim Noah, a rugged 2-guard in Jimmy Butler and, if luck shines on him again, an All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose. They also have very solid talent evaluators in the front office and a top-three coach in Tom Thibodeau.
The problem, of course, is that the Bulls would likely have to get rid of integral power forward Taj Gibson to afford Anthony at his current level of pay. In a perfect world, Anthony would come on a discount because it would make the Bulls better. In that same perfect world, I'd have already lost that extra 15 pounds.
But let's forget about all that and just focus on why the Bulls would be a perfect choice for Anthony.
Melo isn't the perfect all-around player, and at 30, he'll soon be rolling on the downward slope of his career. But he's one of the most dynamic scorers in the league, and of his generation, and the Bulls need offense, even with Rose.
Game respects game, as the saying goes, so I have no doubt Anthony and Rose could coexist, despite each needing the ball to, you know, score. Can Anthony play defense? Yes, and Thibodeau's system isn't hard to master. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe Anthony and Thibodeau could work well together, because there won't be much of a battle of wills.
Why? Because no one in the NBA has more will than Thibodeau. Players bend to his ideas and his system because 1. they don't have a choice and 2. because it works.
One personality aspect about Thibodeau that outsiders don't notice is that he rarely, if ever, criticizes a player in public. Now, that's not true in private, but Thibodeau is very disciplined with the media. For the Bulls to get Anthony to come to Chicago, they need to put him in the same room with Thibs. It almost worked with LeBron four years ago, and after this nightmare season in New York, I think Thibodeau could sway Anthony into buying in to the Bulls Way.
Melo would be an easy fit for Lakers
It's difficult to picture the Knicks building a title-quality squad around a ring-seeking Carmelo Anthony any time soon. If that, along with burns and fumes from this dumpster fire of a season, is enough to get him to opt out and leave money on the table, he has to go somewhere, and it might as well be L.A.
Stipulating the Lakers are interested -- I'm not at all convinced they are -- all that needs to happen here is paperwork. Everyone knows what the Lakers can offer. Nobody needs to be shuffled around. There's no risk that the Lakers will lose too much talent as the cost of bringing him in (because, cynics might say, they don't have any to begin with).
From there, it's a matter of constructing a winning team. That part won't be easy, particularly if Kobe Bryant doesn't come back healthy and dominant next season.
But in a couple of seasons, Kobe will be gone, Melo could have that torch everyone thought Dwight would take, and the Lakers would be free to put a younger star next to him and what they hope will be a valuable player from the 2014 draft. Hopefully by then, the front office will be back on better footing, having adjusted to the loss of Dr. Jerry Buss last year, and they'll always be willing to spend for a title.
It'll require some patience, sure, but it certainly beats putting his faith in James Dolan.
Maybe there's an avenue to the (notoriously stingy) Bulls, who would definitely give him a quicker path to a title, along with a coach who will either repair or cover Anthony's defensive shortcomings. Team Melo will explore that, I'm sure. But if he leaves New York and wants to find a new home without any rigmarole, the Lakers are it.