Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
The Chicago Bulls are the most likely landing spot for Carmelo Anthony, a league source told SNY.TV and The Knicks Blog.
Assuming he follows through with his plan to opt-out by Monday’s deadline, Anthony could either sign with the Bulls for less money than he is due to make with the Knicks ($129 million over five years) or be moved to Chicago in a sign-and-trade deal.
“He is looking to leave if one of the teams he likes can get a deal done with New York,” the source said. “He knows New York is not good enough the way they are currently constructed. Melo wants to win now. He will move if he feels that team can win.”
The source added that Chicago was the most likely landing spot “unless Houston can come up with something other than Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.”
As has been reported, Chicago would need to amnesty Carlos Boozer and get rid of Taj Gibson and at least one more player in order to clear room for Anthony.
As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported, if the Knicks believe Anthony’s departure is inevitable, they could get Boozer and the No. 16 or 19 pick in Thursday’s Draft in exchange for Anthony. The Bulls would have to make the pick and then trade that player to the Knicks in July, Windhorst reported.
Making the above deal with the Bulls would allow Phil Jackson to get the first-round pick he has been looking for and to potentially add a young point guard, perhaps Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, to replace the beleaguered Raymond Felton.
Bulls big man Joakim Noah was reportedly recruiting Anthony to Chicago over the All-Star break, so this option is something that Anthony has been considering for months.
The Bulls sorely need an offensive go-to guy and Anthony, who averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds last season, certainly fits that bill.
The Bulls will get back point guard Derrick Rose next season, and he could form a potent pick-and-roll combination with Anthony.
Finally, the Bulls play in the weaker Eastern Conference, where Anthony would have a better chance at reaching the NBA Finals than if he shifted to the Western Conference – especially if the Miami Heat aren’t able to substantially improve their roster from the team that was thrashed by San Antonio in the NBA Finals.
While Anthony called his recent meeting with Knicks President Phil Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher “great,” the Knicks cannot make any significant roster changes until the summer of 2015, when $52 million in cap space is cleared.
If Anthony opts to go to Chicago, he would be leaving a significant amount of cash on the table in New York, but at this point a better chance to win may outweigh the money.