Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Carmelo as a Bull - Good idea?

Okay, I know...this is probably off the table now that Phil Jackson has agreed to run the Knicks as their president and has endorsed the idea of committing to Carmelo Anthony.  Phil knows how to win, and he knows how to work with star players.  He's got 11 rings as a coach, and 2 as a player.  If I had to bet money on the outcome, I'd bet that Anthony will stay with the Knicks, where he can earn the most money in the biggest market, and take a chance on Phil turning things around for that franchise.

But what if Phil is blowing smoke?  What if when Phil says that he believes that Carmelo can help the team, he means that Carmelo can help the team by being dealt in a sign-and-trade?   And who has what it would take to make that sort of a deal?  Who has assets that might just help the Knicks rebuild this year and in the future?  Or what if Carmelo looks at the picture in the short term and says, "There is no way we're going to compete next year...and probably not the year after either.  Not with as bad as the Knicks look and as capped out as they are."

What if either one of those things is the real truth?  I submit that the Bulls are one of, and maybe the only team that makes sense to make a move for Anthony, from both the Bulls' and Knicks' points of view.

For the Bulls, is Anthony a fit?  I don't know...but I do know that this Bulls team as it is currently constituted is not going to win an NBA championship.  So let's say they amnesty Boozer and they have the cap room for a really good player (which should be the case).  Who is that player?  After Anthony, who is the next best free agent?  Well, it looks to me like it is probably...wait for it...

Luol Deng!

Here's one list of free agents for 2014:  Sports Illustrated List

Notice that most of the free agents above #10 (Deng's position) are centers and power forwards.  Also note that many of them (Lebron, Bosh, Wade, Duncan, Nowitski, Kobe, and even Anthony) are likely to resign with their own teams.  Pao Gasol and Zach Randolph make some sense for the Bulls (especially Randolph, if they do indeed amnesty Boozer) but their real need is for a scorer at either shooting guard or small forward.  Anthony is the only one on that list before Deng who fits that role, and might possibly be available in a sign-and-trade.

Does Anthony make the Bulls a championship contender?  I think he does.  But if he doesn't, so what?  No one else, either free agent or draft pick (outside of maybe Parker or Wiggins or a couple of others who will be long gone when the Bulls draft) makes the Bulls a contender.  Anthony provides what the Bulls need - scoring.  With Derrick Rose (even if he isn't as good as he used to be), and a supporting cast including Noah and Gibson, and whatever is left that the Bulls don't trade to the Knicks to get Anthony, it's a Bulls team that can go deeper in the playoffs.  They have their secret weapon as well - coach Thibodeaux.  (I'm probably spelling that wrong.)

So why would it make sense for the Knicks?  The biggest asset they'd get in the deal would be Boozer and his 16 million dollar expiring contract.  Assuming Anthony's max deal with the Knicks is 130 million over 5 years (a figure I heard on the radio this morning, but I'd previously heard 23 million a year over 6 years), that means the Bulls have to match 26 million a year.  Boozer accounts for 16 million of that amount.  10 million to go.

What would the Knicks want?  I'd think they want a young player.  Butler, probably.  Butler's valuable to the Bulls but not indispensable, and Anthony is going to be the starting "3".  I don't know what he makes but it can't be too much.  So what else goes east?  Could they sign-and-trade Hinrich to a team-friendly deal that would make him very attractive to the Knicks, who could use veteran leadership at the point?  Or could they decide that Jimmer Fredette is their three-point shooter and deal Mike Dunleavy?  I think his contract is about 5 million a year.  Let's just guess-timate that Butler is around 3 million.  That brings us to 24 million.  Two to go.  I'm positive that they'd want the Bulls' pick.  I'd rather trade both Bulls' first rounders (2014 and 2015) if that's possible.  I know there's a league rule about dealing successive first round picks, but I don't know if it applies when you also have other teams' first round picks.  If it does, then keep the 2015 pick and send them the pick they got for Deng (the Kings' pick, I believe, protected this year but not next?).  I think all the Bulls have to do is find another million dollars in salary to deal.  I'm sure it could be done.  That's if the Bulls have to match 26 million.  If it's 23 million, it's a little easier.

The key is Boozer.  Does he work for the Knicks, who will also have Stoudamire under contract?  I think it does.  First, Boozer is expiring after next season.  Second, Boozer is a good player (if not a great player, and if not worth the big contract the Bulls gave him), and Stoudamire can swing between center and power forward.  Butler replaces Anthony, and Hinrich gives them veteran leadership for a couple of years.  Or Dunleavy gives them a year of a solid small forward and three point shooter.  And they get some young players  with not-too-low draft picks.  Would that work for someone like Phil Jackson and the Knicks? 

So is this likely?  I doubt it.  Like I said earlier, I'd bet that Anthony will stay in New York and the Bulls will have to find somewhere else to spend the money.  Maybe they don't amnesty Boozer, maybe they bring Mirotic over and draft a couple of more pieces and see what they have in Rose.  Maybe they make a run at Paul Pierce or something like that.  There are options.

But none of those options lead to a Bulls championship next year, in my opinion.  The only scenario where I see a championship in the picture is one where they get Carmelo Anthony.


You can find my short story NIGHT FAMILY on Amazon!
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