This is a busy week for the New York Knicks. With Steve Kerr close to signing with the Knicks, the next big signature will be Carmelo Anthony’s. He will have three major suitors, that I foresee: the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers.
Let’s examine the facts. Of the three teams, both Chicago and Houston got eliminated in the first round. Coach Kevin McHale is now on the hot seat and Tom Thibodeau is not so happy or loved in Chicago anymore.
According to Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Gate, the Warriors will be contacting Coach Thibodeau. The Lakers are also considering contacting Chicago for permission to interview Thibodeau. With that said, why would Anthony go to Chicago to pay for a coach he likes who may or may not be staying?
The Bulls looked slow, tired and old in their first-round exit at the hands of a surprising Washington Wizards; they were outplayed and outhustled throughout the series by a team that the Knicks, on paper, are better than. To Anthony, losing in the first round is almost as bad as not making the playoffs; this is not the same Bulls team as years ago. The new CBA agreement has made it hard for teams to pay superstars while maintaining depth.
Losing in five games was and remains a significant disappointment for the Bulls. The general consensus was that they would push past Washington and into the second round. After the first round they would be in position to beat the Brooklyn Nets or upset the Indiana Pacers. This did not happen and their future is marred by salary cap and injuries.
For the last two years, their point guard has been nowhere to be found. After missing all of 2012-13 while tending to a torn ACL in his left knee, Derrick Rose played in just 10 games during the 2013-14 campaign, courtesy of a torn right meniscus. Without him, their offense was not the same. For the Bulls, few players could create their own shots, and All-Star center Joakim Noah was left to initiate most of their offense as a primary playmaker, in addition to anchoring a physical defense. Last year they were helped by former Knick Nate Robinson who left Chicago for Denver in free agency and also ended up having knee surgery.
Noah himself was banged up. Soon after the Bulls’ exit, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell, The recovery time is anywhere from eight to 12 weeks.
So you have a team whose two superstars Rose and Noah combine to make more $31 million next year and are under contract for at least another two seasons (Noah through 2015-16, Rose through 2016-17).
Yes, when healthy Rose is great. But remember Iman Shumpert has played the last two years after undergoing ACL surgery while Rose came back and his knees gave out. If we have learned anything from Amar’e Stoudemire, we know knees take time to heal and will be far more exposed in a strong defensive system as well as the constant wear and tear while playing the point guard position. Rose is a risk at this juncture in his career.
The Bulls do not possess the once bright future they did in the past. Their two best players are injury-prone, one of them a former MVP who has been cut down in his prime, the other a genuine warrior with immeasurable heart but weakened knees.
Anthony as well as other free agents will have to look at the overall well-being of Rose and Noah. By next season, Rose will have appeared in just 50 games—regular season and playoffs combined—since December 2011. That’s almost three years.
His latest meniscus injury is something that may never fully heal. Rose had his meniscus repaired, and while speaking with Sporting News Sean Deveney in December, Dr. Derek Ochiai, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nirschl Orthopaedic Center in Arlington, Virginia, indicated that complete recoveries are rare:
“It might not heal. The success rate for meniscal tears is not close to 100 percent, but the younger somebody is, being an athlete, a non-smoker—those things help so there is less of a chance of it not healing. If you follow the protocol and limit range of motion, and you brace appropriately, use crutches appropriately, all those things, it is still about an 80 percent chance it heals, maybe 85 percent. If it doesn’t, he has to either do a re-repair or take out the torn part.”
Now consider that Amare Stoudemire has played in 149 games—regular season and playoffs—since December 2011, or almost three times as many as Rose. If he’s viewed as a health risk and contractual liability, why should Rose be any different? Plus Rose must play the demanding position of point guard.
To leave the Knicks, Anthony needs to be guaranteed something different, something better that what he has—not the potential for more of the same.
The Bulls have more than $63.8 million in player salaries on their books next season. If as projected they amnesty Carlos Boozer’s $16.8 million bill, it only reduces down to roughly $47 million. Next year’s salary cap is slated to increase to $63.2 million, which would give the Bulls approximately only $16.8 million to pay Anthony an obvious reduction. In my opinion that is not enough to sign Anthony, who could be leaving as much as five years and nearly $130 million on the table in New York.
Now you have Houston another underachieving team with salary cap limitations. The Rockets’ total 2014-15 salary commitments at $63.2 million with all player and team options included, leaving them more than $1 million over the projected cap.
They would have to discard both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to stand a chance to get Anthony. In Houston Anthony will not be the man, I can’t see him and James Hardin sharing the ball. Compound this by a lame duck coach and a center that has never really won anywhere and also wants to be the man. He could not share the limelight with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles; can you see him sharing it with Anthony?
And, do the players really want him? “I don’t think we should make any big changes,” Parsons said. “I’m sure they’re going to want to add some guys to make our team better but we’ve got great guys in the locker room. We’ve got talented players. We’ve just got to find a way to put that all together.”
Said Harden: “I think we have more than enough to compete at a high level. We’ve got everything. It’s a matter of us locking in and making sure that we’re all on the same page.”
Now the Rockets must decide to do with Asik and/or Lin as both enter the final seasons of the three-year contracts they signed prior to the 2012-13 campaign is critical. Asik likely greased the skids for his departure with his early-season antics; if not, his salary nevertheless isn’t commensurate with that of a backup. The same could be said of Lin, whose perplexingly uneven performances could be tied to a number of factors, one of which he coyly addressed on Monday.
“It was definitely an up-and-down year. A lot of adjusting,” Lin said. “I would go through stretches where I would play about 35, 40 minutes consistently and then back down to 15 or 20. A lot of up and down. One thing I want to work on is being able to be more even-keeled throughout the course of the season.
In New York Lin never complained, this exemplifies the problems in Houston. In New York, it is his town with rising stars Tim Hardaway Jr, and Iman Shumpert they have some youth to build upon. Tyson Chandler is proven winner, is far from old and yet may soon be traded for more assets. If healthy, Stoudemire has proven to play well with Anthony. At season end J.R. Smith showed signs of the player he was a year ago. Now add the triangle. It worked for scores Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. In the triangle one player must be featured, that would be Anthony. With a healthy Stoudemire a matured Smith Hardaway and Shumpert and a new point guard, this is a team to deal with. Anthony will fight for the ball in Houston and I just don’t see him fitting in to Thibodeau system.
Lastly there are the Lakers. This is a team with aging superstars, limited cap space, no coach and limited talent. This is a total rebuild; I don’t see Anthony wanting that or Jeannie Buss going in that direction against her fiancé Jackson. Enough said.
New York offers
- More money
- Phil Jackson
- The Triangle offense
- Keys to the best city in the world
- Carmelo is featured star
- A new coach with GM experience.
Jackson and Steve Kerr with convince Anthony New York is the best place. He will resign with the Knicks and lead the Knicks to the Promised Land.