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Is Carmelo worth another look for Bulls?

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Fred Hoiberg's offensive system will be a storyline throughout the first part of the Chicago Bulls' season, but players, coaches and the front office all know the season will be measured by the same factor as always: beating LeBron James in the postseason.

"Hell, we got the same exact team," Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said in August. "We had a chance in the last playoffs. Obviously, we can't change it now. So why not try it again? We were right there. We stay healthy, everybody do what you're supposed to do with your bodies, we're going to be back in the same position. You're going to have to go through Cleveland no matter what."

The Bulls know this. Cleveland knows this. Depending on health, a re-energized Miami Heat team might have a chance to knock off one of these two teams in a playoff series. Either way, the Bulls know that in order to play for a championship, they have to beat James. Is it really feasible to think that Hoiberg's presence can make that big of a difference with the exact same group, plus rookie Bobby Portis?

Even the most ardent Bulls supporter would have a hard time believing that to be the case given how badly Derrick Rose & Co. struggled against a Cavs team playing without Kevin Love and a hobbled Kyrie Irving in last spring's playoffs.

Aside from bringing in Hoiberg, the only real game-changing move it seems the Bulls could make would be to ask Phil Jackson what it would take to pry Carmelo Anthony out of New York.

Anthony, of course, was the target the Bulls front office set its sights on during free agency last summer. He famously rode to the United Center with former coach Tom Thibodeau, among others, as the Bulls tried to woo the All-Star forward out of New York. Ultimately, Anthony opted for more money than the Bulls could offer and signed a five-year, $124 million extension.

A year later, the Knicks remain in a rebuilding process and don't appear close to contending for a championship, let alone a playoff berth. Anthony would give the Bulls the type of primary scorer they've needed all along to pair with Rose and Butler. But a year after trying so hard to get him, the broader question is would they really want him?

Anthony's contract is massive. Making a deal for him now would improve the Bulls, but it would also tie the organization to his contract and the corresponding salary cap space for four more years. Given the uncertainty surrounding the core of this team in the near future -- Rose, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic all head into the final year of their respective deals this summer -- that's a risky move.

The other issue, which is more important than the cap space itself, is that the 31-year-old Anthony is coming off season-ending knee surgery. He looked fine in Team USA's minicamp in August, but as he heads into his 13th NBA season, it's fair to wonder how many elite years he has left.

The Bulls also have to consider what it would take to get Anthony out of New York. Would a package of Gibson (coming off ankle surgery of his own), Doug McDermott, Gasol and a future pick or two get the deal done? Would Joakim Noah's expiring $13 million-plus cap number warrant any interest?

This is the Catch-22 the Bulls find themselves in. The hope is that Hoiberg can push this group to another level. But if the Knicks show a willingness to move Anthony, Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson have to make a decision that would have long-term ramifications on their team. And even if they were to acquire Anthony, would that be enough to push them past LeBron and the Cavs in the playoffs?