NBA Free Agency: Carmelo Anthony Taking Center Stage

By Erik Lambert

Mar 30, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) rest on the court against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Knicks won 89-84. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James may be available but most are convinced he won’t really test NBA free agency.  That means all eyes are set on Carmelo Anthony.

Phil Jackson and Knicks want to pair Anthony with Pau Gasol

There is no question the immediate future of the New York Knicks rests on whether they can get Carmelo Anthony to re-sign.  Recent word out of team headquarters paints an optimistic picture.  Sources claim that new team president Phil Jackson has connected very well with Anthony, urging him to come back at a slightly reduced priced.  This will allow Jackson to build a more effective roster with his primary goal signing veteran forward and former All-Star Pau Gasol who is also a free agent.  It’s a nice idea on paper, but with Gasol turning 34 in July it is not the strongest championship proposal.

Heat have master plan to lure Anthony to play with LeBron James

One popular theory floating around NBA free agency circles is what the Miami Heat are concocting.  Their first order of business is of course to ensure the return of superstar LeBron James who opted out of his contract to hit the market.  The hope is the recent drafting of point guard Shabazz Napier, a James favorite, and trading for Toronto Raptors standout Kyle Lowry will do the trick.

At that point the plan, according to rumors, is to bring back Dwyane Wade at a reduced cost while letting Chris Bosh head back to Toronto.  That would open the door for the Heat to court Anthony.  On paper it looks genius, but there are a lot of things that have to go right for it to happen, especially on the financial end.

Tom Thibodeau believes Bulls deep roster is what Carmelo wants

What of the big issues that forced Carmelo Anthony to depart the Knicks in the first place was the fact he felt he had to carry the load by himself.  New York often struggled to put any sort of offensive presence next to him or even construct a proper bench to help.  Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has courted Anthony for months believes his team has the pieces to solve that problem.

The return of star point guard Derrick Rose would instantly add that missing offensive presence, but it goes deeper than that.  Anthony would also have two stud defensive big men in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson down low and thanks to the addition of Doug McDermott in the draft, more shooting coming off the bench.  Factor in Thibodeau’s trademark defense and it’s a sweet setup.  This of course all depends on whether sources were right about Carmelo Anthony willing to take a pay cut in NBA free agency to win, which he would have to given their limited salary cap.