The Chicago Bulls will have a hard time offering Carmelo Anthony a max contract. That’s clear.
They can amnesty Carlos Boozer, waive a few no-value players and trade a few role players without returning salary. Doing that, I project they could make Melo an offer that starts at $16,284,762 and is worth $69,535,934 over four years.
They could also do a sign-and-trade involving Carlos Boozer that would get Melo a max deal – $22,458,402 starting and $95,897,375 over four years. But Phil Jackson might not participate in that.
What’s a little more unclear is what the Bulls would actually do.
We don’t know which role players they’re wedded to – Taj Gibson, for example, seems central to Chicago’s pitch – and how they view Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic, a 2011 draft pick still playing overseas, can now negotiate a contract above the rookie scale. To offer him that, the Bulls must use cap room or an exception – and that interferes with money they could pay Melo.
So, how much would Chicago leave for Melo?
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to an NBA source, the Bulls, during Tuesday’s meetings, floated the idea of Anthony making about $16 million per year across four seasons.
That might be the Bulls’ offer, but that’s not what Berman’s report says. It only says that salary was floated.
Quite possibly, the Bulls are discussing multiple scenarios with Melo. The more money he sacrifices, the better roster they can assemble around him. A moving target with Melo having say on which deals would cause him to sacrifice money makes sense.
Maybe Melo accepts $95,897,375 over four years, the most he could get by leaving New York. Maybe he’s cool with $69,535,934, the amount I believe the Bulls could generate fairly easily without a sign-and-trade. And maybe he’d even settle for the $64 million the Bulls discussed.
But the further removed we get from the Knicks’ max potential offer – $129,135,810 over five years – the less likely teams are to land Melo.