Carmelo Anthony will in all likelihood be opting out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks on Monday to pursue his options in free agency, and the Bulls will be the team firmly planted at the top of his list.
With players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson already in place, adding Anthony to the mix would make Chicago an immediate threat to win the Eastern Conference and make a run at a title as early as next season.
Before all that can happen, however, the Bulls must figure out exactly how they’d add Anthony to the roster.
Chicago would need to clear some salaries in order to create the cap space necessary to sign Anthony to a max deal, or the team could orchestrate a sign-and-trade with the Knicks should New York be informed that Anthony has decided to play somewhere else.
The sign-and-trade option would almost certainly need to include Carlos Boozer, but the Knicks don’t appear to be interested in acquiring his services.
From the Chicago Tribune:
However, league sources continue to indicate that despite Boozer’s expiring $16.8 million deal dovetailing with the Knicks’ plan for massive salary-cap space in 2015, the Knicks have no interest in acquiring Boozer as of now.
Thus, the Bulls might have to sign Anthony, whom everyone from coach Tom Thibodeau to Rose is on board with adding, via outright salary-cap space. Using the amnesty provision on Boozer only nets them roughly $11 million of space, depending on where the cap is set July 1. The Bulls would have to sell off other pieces for nothing in return to create more cap space and would prefer obviously to keep Taj Gibson. So would Anthony should he land with the Bulls.
Boozer has his flaws, but he’s a serviceable big man who averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game for the Bulls last season. His contract is outrageous, but the Knicks are doomed next year from a cap standpoint anyway, and Boozer’s deal would clear in time for New York to pursue free agents in 2015.
But the Knicks plan to try to convince Anthony to stay, and with Phil Jackson now in place and the team having the advantage of being able to offer an extra year and around $30 million to entice him, it’s still very possible that Anthony re-ups in New York.