Now that the Knicks have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s open season on rumors about what Carmelo Anthony will choose to do this summer.
It’s widely expected that Anthony will not pick up his player option worth $23.5 million for next season, in order to take a max contract for four or five years after first exploring his free agent options.
The Bulls have emerged as a front-runner for Anthony’s services if he decides New York is no longer viable, given the framework for a championship that the team has in place, along with the big market city that a player of Anthony’s caliber requires.
The fact that Anthony has been speaking about Tom Thibodeau in glowing terms lately has only helped the rumors, and the latest report about him inquiring further about the respected head coach is pouring gasoline on the fire.
Carmelo Anthony recently approached a former Chicago Bulls player and asked a loaded question that should make Phil Jackson a little nervous.
“What is it like to play for Thibs?” Anthony said.
Anthony’s interest in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can be taken one of several ways. Anthony, who lives and breathes basketball, is merely interested in learning something about one of the NBA’s top coaches. In fact, Anthony will be working with Thibodeau, who was named to USA Basketball’s coaching staff last June.
Of course, Anthony’s impromptu background check on Thibodeau could also be his idea of due diligence since the Bulls loom as an attractive option this summer for the free-agent-to-be.
And as recently as Friday, Anthony complemented Thibodeau, and the players who play so hard for him, no matter the circumstances.
When asked on Friday why the Bulls have survived losing key players while the Knicks haven’t, Anthony said: “I have no clue. Thibs is a great coach, his system kind of reminds me of Gregg Popovich’s system.
“You put anybody in that system and it’s going to work. That’s what they’ve been doing. They’ve had guys sitting out all season long, guys that’s been in and out of the lineups and they seem to get it done.”
It’s worth noting that Anthony would have to leave an extra year and in the neighborhood of $30 million on the table to leave New York, but just as Dwight Howard chose to do last summer, we’ve seen that players with more than $100 million in career earnings before including endorsement dollars are willing to make a move if the situation is right.
We have well over two months before free agency begins, but as far as the wild rumors surrounding Anthony are concerned, the first shot has been fired. And the speculation surrounding a potential move to Chicago will remain one of the hottest topics out there until a new contract has been formally signed.