Is the pursuit of Anthony over?
The Internet world seemed to think New York promising to give Carmelo Anthony a full max contract is the microphone-dropper. The Knicks reportedly did that Thursday night.
Maybe it is. Plenty of people thought Anthony's free-agent tour was designed mostly to coax a five-year, $129 million deal from the Knicks,
While Anthony mulls his options over the holiday weekend, the Bulls have a few angles of hope they can carry.
There doesn't have to be a huge difference in money, for one thing. If Anthony joins another team, he's limited to four years and smaller raises. But if the Bulls can find a way to get to their max of four years, $96.6 million – either through a sign-and-trade or by clearing enough salaries – they'll be in the ballpark.
Anthony can still sign for the fifth year with the Bulls. If they gave him $24 million, then they're around $120 over five years, compared to $129 from the Knicks. The problem is, they can't guarantee that fifth year now.
But then, maybe Anthony was serious about winning as his most important goal, ahead of money. The Bulls might still have a chance there.
Re-signing with the Knicks for a max salary isn't necessarily a winning proposition. New York would commit to paying Anthony $29.5 million in 2018-19, when he's 35.
It's one thing to say the Knicks will have cap space to add players in 2015. Anthony's salary would eat up considerable room.
We've talked about this before, too, how the Knicks stack up for 2015 free agency. Let's say they sign someone this summer for the taxpayer mid-level exception of $3.28 million, which is all they have to spend beyond minimum salaries.
As it stands today, the Knicks would head into next summer with a roster of Anthony, Player TPML, Jose Calderon, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Pablo Prigioni and next year's No. 1 pick with roughly $16 million in cap room – less if they want to keep Shane Larkin or Cleanthony Early.
You never know how things will turn out, but Phil Jackson has work to do to turn that lineup into a Finals contender. Anthony could still look at all the unknowns with the Knicks – first-time coach (Derek Fisher), first-time GM (Jackson) and the year wait before significant changes can be made to the roster.
If the Bulls have to move on, they will probably try to lock up Pau Gasol quickly if they can. He's an accomplished scorer who averaged 17.4 points last season. HoopsHype.com reports that Nikola Mirotic has his mind made up to join the Bulls this summer, which was expected anyway. And the Bulls already added an acclaimed college scorer in Doug McDermott.
One move they'll probably try to make is sending Mike Dunleavy's $3 million contract to a team with cap space, giving them more money to spend on a guard, such as Ramon Sessions or Jameer Nelson.
As I've said all along, Plan B isn't bad for the Bulls, but they clearly needed a big-time scorer such as Anthony. The Bulls feel they have a good rapport with Anthony's agent. Leon Rose. They'll need it this weekend.