Superstar Carmelo Anthony is officially a free agent after spending three and a half seasons with the New York Knicks.
Anthony is a seven-time All Star and is in pursuit of his first NBA championship. He averaged a career high 38.7 minutes per game last season with the Knicks. Two seasons ago, Anthony set a career high average of 28.7 points per game. In his 11-year career, Anthony is averaging 25.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Anthony has spent the first week of July by visiting five teams that have expressed interest in him. On Tuesday, Anthony visited the Chicago Bulls. On Wednesday, Anthony went to Texas to visit both the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. And on Thursday, he visited the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
Chicago has the most to offer Anthony, with the exception of money. If a championship is what Anthony is pursuing, he will end up in Chicago, who has the best team to win a title. With Derrick Rose performing in front of Anthony on his visit and talking with defensive player of the year, Joakim Noah, Anthony has to like the opportunity he has to win with the Bulls. After amnestying Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson is now available to play the power forward position and Jimmy Butler at the shooting guard position. Adding a great shooter in Doug McDermott is going to help the Bulls lure Anthony to Chicago and try to win a championship. Joining the Bulls would possibly make them the best team in a weak Eastern Conference.
Returning to New York is the second best option for Anthony, and could be the first. The Knicks can offer more money and an extra year over the other teams, which means Anthony will get paid in New York. Anthony was offered a five-year deal worth $129 million by the Knicks on Thursday. He will have to buy into what Phil Jackson plans to do with the team to make the team better and more appealing. It may take two seasons for Carmelo to have a championship-caliber team around him, so if he wants to win he will have to go elsewhere. If Anthony wants the money, he will take the deal with the Knicks because they can offer up to $50 million more than other teams.
Los Angeles may overtake New York, if it isn’t about the money for Anthony. The Lakers can pitch the city alone to Anthony, and he may be more inclined to come. Anthony will be able to take over as the face of the franchise after a couple seasons when Kobe Bryant retires. However, playing alongside Bryant and possibly Pau Gasol may be enough to sway Anthony over to the Lakers. If Anthony wants money, this could be a likely spot as well because the Lakers are prepared to give him a four-year $96 million deal. Only the Knicks can offer more money than that. Anthony was seen pulling out of his meeting with the Lakers with a big smile on his face, so this may be more of a likely option.
Houston is also a likely option for Anthony to land. When visiting, there were banners of Anthony in a Rockets jersey and the NBA Finals trophy. It must be very enticing for Anthony to play alongside the best center in the league, Dwight Howard. Howard is a rim protector defensively and can pull down rebounds, he’ll also get his fair share of points. Playing with James Harden also has to be appealing because of how explosive of a scorer he is. Anthony could form another big three, but in the challenging Western Conference. It would be a tougher path to get to the Finals, and Anthony would have to take a pay cut.
Dallas is the least likely to land Anthony. Mark Cuban likely did his best to sway Anthony to come play for the Mavericks. The Mavs aren’t in a position to offer him as much money as the Lakers or Knicks. They also don’t have the roster foundation to convince Anthony he’ll win a championship, not like the Bulls or Rockets. However, the Mavericks are a playoff-caliber team without Anthony. They gave the Spurs their toughest challenge in the playoffs last season and have a very talented roster. Dirk Nowitzki also wants another championship, so there will be a drive to get back to the NBA Finals. Many believe the Mavericks are a superstar away to becoming a championship-caliber team. It seems as if they may have to look at someone other than Anthony though.
It’s undecided where Anthony is leaning towards. After meeting with each team, it is expected that Anthony could make his decision as early as Sunday. The biggest decision is whether Anthony wants more money or if he’s willing to take a pay cut and contend for a championship.