Chicago made its pitch first, and if Carmelo Anthony was going to take a pay cut and leave New York to go somewhere the Bulls are the logical frontrunner — they are already on the cusp of contending just needing more scoring, they have the defensive system Anthony needs around him to win, it’s still a major market, and it’s a team with a good history (thanks to that Jordan guy).
Yet Chicago started to ramp up its pursuit of its second targets (Pau Gasol for one) right after Anthony left and there are whispers of pessimism from them, as reported by Ian Begley at ESPNNewYork.com.
“They’re worried that he’s headed back to New York,” a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said of early Tuesday morning. “They’re more pessimistic than optimistic.”
The source wasn’t speaking for the entire Chicago front office, just a small segment. So there is reason to believe that not all members of the team’s hierarchy shared this opinion.
If Chicago is pessimistic, then where does that leave Houston and Dallas? Those two teams made their pitches on Wednesday and both can make the case that, like Chicago, with Anthony on board they are instant contenders. But if Anthony is leaving New York for a shot at a title is he going to leave the Eastern Conference to go to the West and the loaded side of the bracket with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and more?
Thursday the Lakers will make their case. They will sell Los Angeles (where Anthony lives in the off-season), the most recognizable brand in basketball, and Kobe Bryant will be at the meeting. But the Lakers are not only in the Western Conference they are farther away from winning than the Rockets and Mavericks and would need to add pieces around ‘Melo and Kobe to be a serious threat. That likely doesn’t happen overnight.
More and more the sense around the league seems to be that Anthony is going to give Phil Jackson a chance in New York.
Nobody knows exactly what Anthony is thinking. It’s a decision he and his family need to make over the coming days (Anthony has been ribbed on talk radio for the influence that his wife Lala may have here, but you try and make a decision about how much money you’ll make and where you’ll live without involving your wife and see how that goes). He could choose Chicago. There is a lesser chance but maybe James Harden and Dwight Howard were convincing in Houston, Mark Cuban was in Dallas.
But more and more it seems Anthony is in a New York state of mind.