Ranking Best Potential Destinations for Carmelo Anthony in Free Agency
From the minute Carmelo Anthony announced his intent to become a free agent this offseason, there has been nothing but speculation surrounding where exactly the Knicks’ superstar will go.
Will he decide to stay in New York for the foreseeable future? Will he join forces with Kobe Bryant in L.A. and try to bring the Lakers back to an elite level once again?
One thing is for certain. Anthony doesn’t care about the money. What he cares about more than ever is finding a destination where he can actually win, and hopefully eradicate the dreaded ‘toxic’ label that has surrounded him his whole career.
“I want to come back, but I also want to win. If we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever the contract would be… I’m not concerned about the money. The contract will be the contract regardless. I’d like to consider myself financially stable. From that part of it, I’m not worried about it. To me, it’s more of the day-to-day stuff of putting together a situation where I’m able to compete at a high level night in and night out, and when it comes down to it, having the chance to reach my ultimate goal, which is winning that championship.”
So which teams are potential destinations for Melo as the offseason inches closer? Read on to find out.
Los Angeles Lakers
At the moment the odds are heavily stacked against the Lakers, due to their limited assets, aging superstar and no sense of direction in regards to their future.
However, if the franchise can somehow land another top-tier player in the draft or before free agency, they may have a slim chance of luring Anthony in and making him the new face of the franchise.
New York Knicks
Like the Lakers, New York’s future looks extremely bleak, with a roster that’s nearly $25 million over in cap space and a laughable core that features duds like Raymond Felton (for now), J.R. Smith, Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani.
Barring any miracles, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks pulling off any kind of deal that would persuade Anthony to stay. Then again, maybe Phil Jackson can somehow convince a meaningful player (like Pau Gasol) to suit up in New York.
If all else fails, Jackson becoming the next head coach out of desperation seems like the only thing that will keep Anthony from leaving.
With the Warriors, Mavericks and Lakers already all lining up for a shot at Melo, another team that could reportedly make a push for the superstar during the offseason is the Houston Rockets.
According to a league source, the Rockets will make a bid for Carmelo Anthony this summer, even though they probably won’t have cap space and would have to orchestrate a creative sign-and-trade. The source said Houston asked the Knicks about Anthony before February’s trade deadline.
Acquiring Anthony will definitely be a grueling task, as the team is up to their britches in cap space and will also need to move the egregious contracts of both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.
Mark my words, if General Manger Daryl Morey can somehow pull this off, there’s no question he will be a frontrunner for executive of the year next season.
With Dirk Nowitzki set to take a pay cut, there may be just enough cap space for the Mavericks to make a pitch to Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
And what’s not to love?
Dallas has an established coach in Rick Carlisle who has led the team to an impressive 569-399 record over his six year tenure and a proven core of veterans that are all about winning.
The key to making this deal a reality will be if either:
a. They offer Melo a max deal by cutting Marion, Dalembert, Crowder and Carter or
b. They somehow convince the superstar to take a small pay cut and possibly bring back Carter or Marion, making it the best of both worlds.
Golden State Warriors
In an interview with Tim Kawakami of Mercury News, new head coach Steve Kerr made one thing perfectly clear: He’s definitely interested in acquiring a stretch-four for next season:
“I did tell them I think this team could use a stretch 4. I think a shooting 4 could really make things difficult on the opposition.We saw what Draymond did in that Clipper series at the end. He made 5 threes in Game 7. I mean, that’s the kind of balance that becomes really difficult to guard. That’s the one nugget I can give you that we actually have talked about. A stretch 4 would be great. But in terms of names, we really haven’t gotten into that.”
We’ve already heard potential Kevin Love deals involving the Warriors, but an even better option would be to go after Anthony – that is if they could somehow persuade the Knicks to make a sign-and-trade deal.
Maybe a package including Klay Thompson/Harrison Barnes and David Lee would entice New York to accept, especially if the team finally realizes they face possibly gaining nothing in return for their disgruntled superstar.
If Carmelo Anthony wants to maximize his abilities as a player and become a vital part of a winning atmosphere, there’s no better destination than the Chicago Bulls.
For years Anthony’s biggest weakness has been on the defensive end of the floor, failing to cover opponents effectively and averaging an awful defensive rating of 107 over his career.
Joining Chicago would allow Anthony to thrive as a more efficient defender under Tom Thibodeau’s system and also alleviate the team’s most pressing issue over the last few seasons: offense.
If the Bulls can amnesty Carlos Boozer and find a trade partner for Taj Gibson, don’t be surprised to see Anthony sporting the colors red and black next season.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops