As New York Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony’s free agency period looms on the horizon – July 1st is the beginning of free agent signing – several teams are lining themselves up to make a run to land the coveted scorer. Here, we take a look at those most likely to sign the superstar.
New York Knicks: 50 percent chance of signing
This would be perhaps the anticlimax to the Carmelo Anthony saga. Anthony can make the most money here by signing a new five-year deal, the size and length of which cannot be matched by any other team. Anthony is now 30 years old and almost assuredly on the dark side of his peak years. Going on this, his next contract will likely be his last as a superstar.
Also, Anthony has never expressed any desire to leave the city, only to test the free agency waters this July. His decision to opt-out and become a free agent could prove nothing more than an attempt to gain more leverage on the Knicks’ front office, forcing them to pursue any avenue to improving the roster and delivering Anthony that NBA Championship he so desperately craves.
Chicago Bulls: 30 percent chance of signing
The Bulls have been swinging for the fences for years in search of the marquee name to bring titles back to the Windy City. They struck out on LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the summer of 2010 and are similarly well positioned to make a compelling offer to Carmelo Anthony.
Chicago possesses the best combination of assets and potential core roster of any of Anthony’s possible destinations. The Bulls would have to cut Carlos Boozer via the amnesty provision, but provided they can find takers for Mike Dunleavy Jr’s palatable final year and offload a few other fringe players, Chicago can free up enough cap space to slot Anthony in alongside reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, former league-MVP Derrick Rose (if healthy) while playing under a coach Anthony reportedly holds in the highest regards, perennial Coach of the Year candidate Tom Thibodeau.
Precluding the Bulls from signing is their strange inability to land big name players throughout the last decade. Chicago would also need Anthony to trim his salary on top of taking the drop in pay he would receive from re-upping in New York.
Houston Rockets: 10 percent chance of signing
Houston has emerged as an exciting potential landing spot due to the rather pleasing thought of Anthony lining up next to James Harden and Dwight Howard in Rocket red.
Going against this deal is simple basketball mathematics.
Houston is already heavily restricted by salary and would need to shed the contracts of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Both were signed two seasons ago to contracts featuring hugely bloated third seasons, the major reason why both players were let go by their previous owners.
Finding a taker for Asik and Lin’s $15 million final years without taking back salary or giving up vital first-round picks is the biggest stumbling block to Carmelo flying to Texas.
Miami Heat: 10 percent chance of signing
This is the pipe dream. Carmelo Anthony jetting to South Beach to join his friends in Miami. LeBron James has opted out, most likely to sign a new contract with the Heat at a lower price, allowing the team to surround him with the talent necessary to return to the Finals for a fifth straight season.
Assuming Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh both join James in restructuring their deals, the Heat could technically bring Anthony to join them, creating a marketing dream and a lineup certain to force another lockout when the current bargaining agreement ends.
There are obvious issues with this scenario: All four of Melo, James, Wade and Bosh would need to take significant pay cuts at a time in their careers they are approaching their final maximum contracts. Anthony would also move from the Knicks, where he is the undisputed focal point, to a team where he would be number two to James on-court and at least third to James and Heat hero Wade off-court.