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Report: Bulls and Rockets are Carmelo Anthony’s top free agent options if he leaves Knicks

Mar 19, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks Getty Images

More than at any point since this season began getting away from the Knicks, it seems Carmelo Anthony will re-sign in New York.

Phil Jackson said in no uncertain terms he wants to keep Melo, and Melo has expressed a willingness to follow Jackson.

But the Knicks are still 27-40 and – with no draft picks or cap space and few trade assets – have little chance of getting significantly better next season. Melo would be crazy to not consider leaving.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Anthony has free-agent options, and two have risen above everything else: Chicago and Houston, sources with direct knowledge of his plans told Yahoo Sports.

“He’ll give New York every option,” one source with knowledge of Anthony’s plans told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “But he has options – and he’s going to explore them all.”

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The Rockets reportedly believe they can get Melo, but it would almost certainly take a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. What I’d give to be a fly on the wall in negotiations between the old-school Jackson and the analytical Daryl Morey. Those are two decision-makers coming at it from different perspectives, and that could make hashing out a deal difficult.

Chicago was previously reported to be a prime destination for Melo, and that was before Joakim Noah reportedly pitched him at the All-Star game.

What do the Bulls and Rockets have in common? They’re well-run teams with winning records.

Jackson, despite his star power, can’t instantaneously turn the Knicks into either one of those things. I suspect Chicago and Houston will remain appealing to Melo right through the moment he signs somewhere this summer.

But if Melo’s first priority is still to remain with the Knicks, and I take him at face value on that, Jackson’s hiring should have the Bulls and Rockets taking eggs out of the Melo basket.

  1. kingperk123 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    CHICAGO all-day

    • spthegr8 - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      ^^^ I agree. Chicago is a better fit for him.^^^

  2. El Pollo Loco - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Melo harden and Howard?They realize there is only one basketball right?

    • aboogy123456 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Howard doesn’t need the ball to be successful so I think it would work. Harden is more of a creator and ballhandler and Melo is better off the ball. I think Harden would dominate the ball and one of his weaknesses is that he has trouble scoring when matched up with an elite defender. Melo can score on anybody and would take the best wing player on the other team, making it easier for Harden to operate.

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Gotta drop Dwight out of that and Harden for the most part too. For his entire career, Dwight ONLY averages 11.2 field goal attempts per game (11.5 this season).

      It’s laughably low especially considering he’s usually in the top 10 to 15 in FG% too.

      Melo averages 19.7 shots a game (22.0 this year & 22.2 last yr).

      James Harden career average is low because he’s only been the man last yr and this yr. BUT even THIS season, Harden only averages 16.4 field goal attempts per game.

      So Dwight AND Harden combine to take 27.9 shots a game to Melo’s 22 shots a game.

      Melo is and has always been a volume scorer and comparing his shot attempts per game to the combined totals of Dwight AND Harden should be sufficient to illustrate this.

      • sportsfan18 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Dwight and Harden combine to take 27.6 shots a game this season. sorry

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      I think a trio of Melo, Howard and Harden would be very scary. However, it would be intersting to see who they would have to give up in a sign-and-trade.

    • campcouch - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      People forget that Melo is very efficient when playing with actual stars. Watch his play whenever Team USA gets together. He scores because the Knicks have no other option on a nightly basis. STAT may have a game once a week,but that’s it. Even in Denver,people didn’t game plan against Chauncey Billups,they worried about Anthony. I don’t think he’s leaving NYK,but if he di go to Houston,I think he’d adjust.

  3. zerole00 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    They’re both solid options with teams on the rise (though Chicago’s contention has been derailed numerous times by Rose’s injuries). I’ve never been a Carmelo fan (after he threw that sucker punch while with the Nuggets), but it’s hard not admire his effort on this mess of a team this season.

  4. knicksallday - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Melo made such a push to get on this Knicks team not too long ago.
    I don’t think that he’d leave, even after this horrendous season.

  5. madsk1lls - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Lebron and Wade were both ball dominating players. Somehow they won 2 titles. Melo could be the ultimate stretch 4. Melo is suprisingly the 8th most efficient player in the league and is shooting 40% from 3. I’m sure Mchale can mash the ego’s and Morey can move Lin and Asiks expiring contracts to NY with picks to help their rebuild. Parsons could be signed the following year after the Melo aquisition and rox can eat the luxury tax. We will see what’s more important to Melo, money or titles. Thats Howard, Melo, Parsons, Harden and Beverly! Good luck stopping that.

  6. aboogy123456 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    His two options are Chicago and Houston? If he were to leave the knicks, does he have ANY other option besides those two?

    • casualcommenter - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Um…how about the LA Lakers?

      “Melo to the Lakers?” speculation articles have run on this blog, ESPN, and elsewhere constantly over the past year.

      • madsk1lls - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        Ha Ha. Out of yhe frying pan and into the fire? NY and LA are doing everything but accepting the inevitable. NY needs to get what they can for Melo and sit and wait for stoudamire, barngini, and chandlers contracts to expire. LA shouldve traded Kobe and Gasol for picks to get some draft picks. Nashs contract expires next year. Why and the hell would he go to any of these dumpster fire franchises?

      • zerole00 - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Why would he go from one rebuild team to another? Draft wise, the Lakers do have a good pick coming this year but that’s about it. The fact that he’s essentially choosing between Jim Buss or PJ makes the previous advantage a bit moot as well (assuming Dolan gives PJ full reign).

      • aboogy123456 - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        I don’t think Lakers will make him an offer this summer. I think they want to use that money on the following summer’s free agent class.

      • lj312chicago - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        that’s mostly just idiotic Lakers fans who for some reason have been M.I.A. all year while Lakers brass has been saying….they don’t want Melo.

      • aboogy123456 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        I don’t think Lakers will make him an offer this summer.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      There are always other options (Philly has plenty of cap space, lol). But if he’s going to leave his hometown team, it’s going to be to chase titles.

      Not possible titles if the team makes the right moves (sorry C’s fans), but a situation where they are realistic title contenders from day 1. The only 2 real options in that case are Chicago and Houston. Would other teams want him? Of course. Would other teams be able to afford him, or clear out enough cap space without gutting their roster for him? Not many….basically Houston and Chicago

    • ranfan12 - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      It reads top options.

  7. time4complaints - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    I’m confident that in time Phil Jackson can build a contender in NY, but what type of assurance can he give Melo that the team will be competitive in the near term? Will Derrick Rose return to his preinjury form? Chicago has a lot of uncertainty if they give up the pieces required to fit a contract for Melo under the cap. Houston will definitely contend with Melo, Harden and Howard. If Melo wants to guarantee that he will play for a contender, he should force his way to Houston. But let’s be honest, he won’t leave $30 million on the table. He’s going to resign with the Knicks and claim it is because he has faith in Phil Jackson’s ability to build a winner… But this is really going to come down to that mountain of cash that no one can compete with

  8. casualcommenter - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    Chicago is better for Carmelo since he has a very obvious role to fit into. Assuming the Bulls trade or amnesty Boozer, who plays terrible defense and scores 18 points, Carmelo would step into that role and provide a lot more offense.

    Carmelo and Rose could each take 20+ shots per game, and guys like Noah, Butler, Hinrich, Snell, etc. wouldn’t care. The best team for Carmelo has 1 other superstar to help take attention off of him but otherwise is filled with role players who give great effort on defense and don’t mind playing off the ball on offense. That’s the Bulls’ roster in a nutshell.

  9. 1harrypairatesties - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Come to Da Bulls Melo. More to do here. Better people. Better food. Better everything than Houston. Plus its too hot there. Come on, come to Chicago.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      more gunplay, more murders, lol

      Seriously though, I don’t get the whole Melo movement from the Bulls fans. I just don’t see how he fits into the team. That is the Bulls strength is the fact that they all give 100%, all game. Melo isn’t exactly known for that.

      When one guy on a team gets away with not doing that, it’s only a matter of time before it spreads

      • philtration - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:22 PM

        The murder rate for Chicago is 7.1%
        The murder rate for Houston is 13.1%
        You are almost twice as likely to be killed on the streets of Houston as you are in Chicago.

        Funny how facts kill stupid notions and beliefs if you just use them.

      • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        Last year, which was the first in the last 10 (and Pheonix was’t 13.1, they were 12.1). That was the exception, not the rule

  10. acieearl - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Don’t sleep on the Celtics with this one. Oak Hill alums re-united with draft picks stocked to continue adding pieces.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      Melo is not going to Boston. There is a better chance Melo resigns in New York, and the Knicks sign Rondo when he becomes a FA (and that is a longshot), than there is Melo going to Boston.

      If they could out bid other teams, maybe. But with the max contract rules, the only real things that can attract a player is winning and endorsements. If he’s that worried about endorsements, he’ll never leave NY (slight possibility for LA), because there isn’t a better market for endorsements.

      At this point, you would THINK that winning would be the main priority for Melo. If that is the case, why would Boston even enter a conversation that already includes Chicago and Houston?

      • bostonian13 - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        A starting lineup of Kelly Olynk (maybe even Abeed) Sully, Melo, Bradley and rondo. Plus a deep bench, in a pretty good Boston market, and a legendary team at that. Why wouldn’t that attract Melo?

      • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        Because that roster wouldn’t beat Chicago, let alone the Heat, Pacers, or any of the West’s top teams. If not going to a CLEAR title contender, there is no reason for him to leave NY

  11. lj312chicago - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Lets see would you rather go to the Bulls..where Drose might get injured again…but reguardless they’re going to win because they’re deep and have the best coaching in the NBA?….or Go to Houston…deal with Dwight Howard and fight with Hardin over the basketball? Go to Chicago or stay in New York and take the money.

    P.S. His wife La La…would never let him sign with Houston….it’s Chicago or New York

  12. sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    If he hits the market, expect the Rockets to be calling their old assistant GM in Philly within 5 minutes, with a “here, take out bad contracts, and we’ll give you these picks” deal. If I’m Melo, I’d rather team up with Harden and Howard than Rose (with an extra bonus of only having to play the Heat in the finals). But either way, Houston COULD get him without doing a sign and trade, and I would be willing to bet the sixers would take less of a payback to eat 20 million in bad contracts (2 future 1sts?), than the Knicks would want for a sign-and-trade with them

    Overall, Chicago tends to still put up good numbers without Rose, but playing a style that does not fit Anthony even a little bit, especially if Rose isn’t 100%. At this point, I think Chicago is getting desperate to get that 2nd “start” guy on the roster with Rose, so I think they’ll be going hard. But Houston sees the next “big 3” if they can bring in Anthony.

    Either way, there is no way the Knicks get even close to what they gave up for Melo just a few years ago, so you would think their priority would be to re-sign, or let him walk. It’s not like the Bulls or Rockets have a roster full of young guys that a rebuilding team (which the Knick, minus Anthony clearly would be) would want to pick up in a sign and trade. If they aren’t re-signing him, they may be better off letting him walk for nothing and starting from scratch, than bringing in a package of players that is never going to win you anything, but is going to change you from a 15 to 25 win team next year, which in the long run, is useless

  13. irvfin3 - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    I don’t see Melo going to Houston. How is Melo and Harden going to coexist? They’re also ball dominant. Chicago is the much better fit.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      and when Rose is healthy, he isn’t “ball dominant”? Harden has already proven he can thrive while co-existing with other top scorers. The question would be if Howard was willing to be a 3rd option and relegated to mostly put backs

  14. tfilarski - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    i do not see carmelo missing out on 30mil. hope i am wrong though

  15. chiadam - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Let him stay in New York. When LeBron was on the Cavs, he lead a bad supporting cast to the Conference Finals, NBA Finals, and 60-win seasons in a putrid Eastern Conference. Melo has a bad supporting cast, a putrid Eastern Conference, has lead his team to a 27 – 40 record, and everyone is breathless to see where he will go? The Bulls lost Rose and traded Deng. And they’re probably going to be the third seed in the playoffs. Maybe Melo just isn’t all that good.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Melo is not as good as LeBron. Doesn’t mean you can’t win with him though. But you’re really talking about a Thibs vs Woodson thing here – if Thibs was in NYC I think the story is completely different.

  16. basketballbro - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Both Houston and Chicago are realistic options. While a sign-and-trade is the only way to get Melo to Houston, I’m sure the Knicks would be willing to trade Melo for expiring contracts & draft picks if they knew Melo was leaving, thus making this very possible.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Again, Houston could get Philly to eat those same contracts, and most likely give up less (Philly doesn’t have to worry about a PR hit for a bad return on their star) than they would give up in a sign and trade.

      Philly isn’t the only team in this position, but it just makes the most sense since they can fit the contracts, are more interested in picks than anything else, and have a GM with a history in Houston. They would need a 3rd team to help them, but they could easily move contracts and sign him outright

  17. antistratfordian - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Melo is not going anywhere.

  18. au1978 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    I think it’d be interesting to see Carmelo in Houston. It would take probably 3-4 months for him, Harden and Dwight to gel, but I think they would be pretty lethal in the 2nd half of the season if they all know their roles.

    My conern would be defensive effort. Though Howard has made Houston a much better defensive team this season and Harden has demonstrated that he actually IS a good defender when he puts in the effort, having Anthony could turn them back a bit on that end.

    And, even though I absolutely LOVE my city, I seriously doubt Mrs. Anthony would tolerate the traffic and scorching summers.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      Sounds reasonable (half a season). Took that long for the big 3 in Miami to really start to gel. Melo would have to adjust to sharing the ball, Harden would have to readjust his game to having an elite scorer (he’s done it before), and Howard is going to have to accept that he’s going to get limited touches in the post.

      But Melo’s defensive issues can be covered up by Howard (especially if he accepts the role as a defensive mainstay and offensive role player). But if he was willing to accept that role, and Melo and Harden are willing to make those adjustments, I think they could give Miami a run for their money (although with a smaller window).

      They COULD do a sign and trade with the Knicks, but I don’t think that is their preference. After all, if they do that, they are going to have to pay more (he would sign the bigger extension with NY first). Again, if they think Melo is willing, don’t be shocked to see something like Asik, Lin and 2 firsts to the sixers for a few 2nds. With the sixers using those guys as trade bait (expiring) or have them come off the bench and let them walk after next year. I don’t know why, but i just think something like this could come together with all the team links (Plus, you would think, Houston’s big 3 would be slowing down by the time Philly is ready to contend, so they don’t have to worry about directly losing to them in the finals), IF Melo decides to walk

      I personally think he’d be a better fit in Houston than in Chicago (and Houston seems to be as deperate to get a 3rd a chicago a 2nd), but I apparently seem to be in minority on that

  19. kappy32 - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    There’s still the $20-something million more that the Knicks can pay Melo than the Bulls or Rockets can. If he feels Jackson can put together a winner in NY, I highly doubt a materialistic player like Melo would leave that money on the table. Frankly, if Moe, Larry, and Curley ran the Knicks, Melo wouldn’t leave that money on the table.

    • sumkat - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      I think that’s true, IF he thinks the Knicks can put together a winner by the end of next season. He’s not exactly a young player anymore. If he thinks it’s going to be 3-4 more years before they can clean the mess, then get talent around him, does he really want to wait that long?

      Personally, I think he’s been honest when he says his preference is to stay in NY. It’s his home town, it’s the biggest market, etc, etc. But at the same time, I think he wants to win, and win now. I think the Knicks are the favorites (especially with Jackson in the fold), but I do think he’s going to at least entertain the idea. Chicago and Houston will certainly try to find out if he is. I also wouldn’t be shocked if LA did. I don’t think they should, and i think it would be a bad choice for Melo, but I also have no faith in little Buss to not just do it because he can’t handle another year being second fiddle to the Clippers

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