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Rajon Rondo says Carmelo Anthony might be ‘missing piece’ for Bulls; Celtics also in the mix

Jun 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics New York Knicks v Boston Celtics

Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out and pursue free agency this summer, and he’s the one player who’s believed to be the most available for another team to scoop up.

LeBron James may do the same, of course, but his leaving Miami remains a long shot. And Kevin Love can be had for the right offer in trade, but he won’t be a free agent until the 2015 season has finished.

That leaves Anthony as the marquee free agent, especially if opting out does in fact mean that he’s made a decision to play somewhere else.

Chicago would seem to be the frontrunner for his services, and Rajon Rondo believes that the addition of Anthony would immediately propel the Bulls into the championship conversation.

“I hate to say it, but he just might be [the missing piece],’’ Rondo said on ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie, via Basketball Insiders. “[The Bulls] have a great center in Joakim Noah who holds down the paint and one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in our league. And with Derrick Rose coming back, you have a Big Three in Chicago. Melo could be the missing piece, but if he does a move like that, we’ll have to figure out something in Boston.’’

Later in the interview, Rondo discussed his own team’s pursuit of free agents, and Anthony’s name was one he included in the discussion.

“You never know what Danny [Ainge] is capable of doing,” Rondo said. “I can’t tell you too much. We want to be contenders as well next year. We don’t plan on being down for too long. I think Danny has a lot of wiggle room with what he’s been able to do the past couple of years in the draft. So I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen. Hopefully [Carmelo Anthony] doesn’t go to Chicago.”

“I think after we try to get ‘Melo and add an additional piece, then who knows? The sky’s the limit,” Rondo added. “I play to try to win a championship every year. With ‘Melo, I think it’s very possible.”

The Celtics have plenty of draft picks to entice teams to make a deal, and also have assets like young, inexpensive talent and expiring contracts that could be of interest, depending on their trade partner’s priorities.

Anthony signing in Boston doesn’t seem likely, however, given how far away the Celtics are from competing for a title; he isn’t going to leave in the neighborhood of $30 million on the table in New York just for the sake of changing scenery. It has to be a situation where the team he goes to is immediately capable of contending for the championship — someplace like Chicago, for example.

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