COMMENTARY | Will Carmelo Anthony really choose to bolt the Big Apple in favor of the Windy City this offseason?
Anthony is certainly one of the most dynamic scorers in the league -- his record 62-point performance in Madison Square Garden confirmed that -- but head coach Tom Thibodeau preaches a team concept that could be destroyed with the addition of an old-fashioned NBA chucker like Melo.
How would Carmelo Anthony fit into the philosophy of the Chicago Bulls?
Melo doesn't play any defense and won't fit into Thibodeau's slap-the-floor defensive mentality, right?
Despite losing their best on-ball defender, Luol Deng, to a money-saving trade earlier this season, the Bulls still rank No. 2 in the entire NBA in defense. Chicago has only allowed 92.9 points per game to opponents this season.
The idea that Carmelo would be the chink in an otherwise shiny Chicago defensive armor is ridiculous. The Bulls play team defense, not one-on-one defense. Does anyone believe Derrick Rose is a fantastic defender?
The Bulls' MVP has never made an all-NBA defensive team, and his best defensive season saw him average just one steal per game. How is it that Rose is able to thrive on Thibodeau's defense-first squad?
The Bulls are continually one of the best defensive teams in basketball because of the rebounding and shot-blocking ability of their bigs. Joakim Noah will still be in the center to make sure teams do not get easy looks at the rim and are not allowed many second-chance opportunities.
From that aspect, Melo is averaging nine rebounds per game this season and would actually constitute an upgrade as a rebounder out of the small-forward position for the Bulls.
The reason some have suggested Anthony could be exactly what the Bulls need is due to the fact that they haven't had a go-to wing scorer since Michael Jordan placed his sixth NBA title banner in the United Center rafters.
Despite only allowing 92.9 points per game to opponents this season, the Bulls are still fighting to keep their head above .500. As a team, Chicago only averages 92.9 points of offense per game as well.
Derrick Rose is one of the most explosive players in the league (when healthy), but, at 6 feet 3 inches, 190 pounds, he goes through stretches of being unable to find quality shots. In 2011, after Rose took home the MVP trophy for the regular season, the Bulls found the Miami Heat in the way in the Eastern Conference finals. Chicago took the first game at home but would lose four straight to miss out on a trip to the Finals.
The Bulls averaged just 83 points per game over those final four contests, and the biggest reason was a lack of a true go-to wing scorer who could get his own shot whenever the offense stalled. Anthony's ability to score in bulk could be the missing piece to a Chicago championship puzzle.
Enough Shots to Go Around?
Anthony would solve a lot of problems for the Bulls on the offensive end, but can Chicago's offense facilitate two 20-shots-per-night players? This season, Anthony is heaving the ball at the basket 22 times per game, while his point guard, Raymond Felton, is only putting up 11 shot attempts each night.
The ability for Melo to co-exist in Chicago could fall on the shoulders of Rose. After being a non-factor for basically three seasons now, can Rose's ego allow the offense to be run through someone else, or will he come back with a need to prove he is the same player he was pre-injuries?
Rose has never played with as dynamic a wing player as Anthony in his career. Rose may play point guard, but he is a shoot-first point guard. Would a Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant situation arise whereby the point guard routinely gets vilified for shooting too much? How soon before the relationship soured and Anthony becomes unhappy playing next to someone who demands as many looks at the rim as he does.
Rose is not a selfish player, so he may be willing to give up some of his own scoring if it meant adding the type of offensive game that Anthony would bring to Chicago. Anthony fitting in Chicago will be all about Rose allowing him to fit in Chicago.
Let's slow down for a second and try not to act like Melo-to-Chicago is a foregone conclusion. Even if Anthony says 100 percent that Chicago is where he wants to be, the Bulls will still need to conduct a little financial liposuction to make it happen.
Even though Anthony has made over $150 million during his career so far, I don't see him coming to the Bulls at a discount in some selfless pursuit of a ring. Anthony is a max-contract player who will demand a max-contract deal.
After trading Deng and using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer this offseason, Chicago will be left with just north of $46 million on the roster next season. If the Bulls want to re-sign D.J. Augustine, he will be in line for a serious salary bump, and their international star, Nikola Mirotic, will be in need of a financial reason to come over here and play next season as well.
The Bulls will almost certainly need to get rid of Mike Dunleavy's $3.3 million salary, but, if Anthony really is going to sign with the Bulls, Chicago may also have to jettison its valuable first-round draft picks in favor of picks in later years, or players who won't require as much financial obligation. Even after all of that, Anthony coming to Chicago could find the Bulls luxury-tax bound once again.
Dalton Russell is Chicago native and longtime follower of the Bulls. His championship expectations were irrevocably ruined by the Michael Jordan-led teams of the '90s and now impatiently awaits the next great chapter of Bulls basketball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Carmelo Anthony
- Chicago Bulls
- Derrick Rose