Since, reports of Carmelo Anthony possibly opting out of the final year of his deal with the New York Knicks began to surface during last season, most everyone has had an opinion of where he should end up.
Initially, I thought Chicago would be the best landing spot for Melo. Teaming up with the likes of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah would probably make the Bulls the favorite to win the Eastern Conference, depending on what the Miami Heat are able to pull off this summer. However, after further examination, I’m starting to question whether or not the Windy City will be all it’s cracked up to be.
While, Tom Thibodeau is an excellent coach, who gets the most out of his players on a nightly basis, he’s not exactly an offensive guru. Melo, is an offensive player. End of story. His best defense against a player like Lebron or Paul George will be to out score them. There’s nothing wrong with that, really. The Bulls have plenty of guys that love to get dirty on the defensive end, but will there be enough focus on the offensive end for Carmelo to feel comfortable and do what he does best?
We also know, that Melo loves to have the ball in his hands. Often times, too much so. The problem with that is, Rose is the point guard and he loves to have the ball in his hands also. Short of using two balls, which of course is illegal, will there be the balance needed between Rose and Melo to make the offense run smoothly? Will Melo be a willing passer if defenses begin to key in on him, especially if players like Jimmy Butler aren’t consistent with their shooting? Facilitator has never been a word we’ve associated with the name Carmelo Anthony.
Then, there’s the question of Rose’s health. Will his knees hold up for the long haul? The Bulls are definitely a much better option than staying in New York, if Carmelo is really serious about winning a title, but it’s nowhere near a slam dunk. Especially, when there may be better options available.
The Houston Rockets have two all-stars in place also. James Harden and Dwight Howard. When it was first announced that the Rockets were going to pursue Melo this summer, the whole thing didn’t make much sense to me. Actually, there are still aspects of this possible deal that would make me not want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. Just as Derrick Rose likes to have the ball in his hands, so does James Harden. In a lot of ways, Harden and Melo’s games are similar. Both have very good mid-range games, and seem to be most comfortable in the same spots on the floor. Also, unlike the Bulls, the Rockets are terrible defensively. Well, maybe terrible is too harsh a word, but whether the Rockets land a player like Melo or not, something must be done to help Kevin McHale’s team defensively.
Melo, won’t help the Rockets defensively, but if, and that’s a big IF, there can be the same balance between he and Harden, as I mentioned above about Rose, the sky’s the limit. Even with Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons in fold last season, there were many instances where Houston’s offense stalled due to defenses keying in on Harden. Melo, should alleviate a lot of that. Having two other players on the floor that can take over a game at any given time would be another feather in Houston’s hat, as they pursue Carmelo. Again, the chemistry between Melo, Harden, and Howard would be vital.
One thing’s for sure. There should be no worries whether or not Kevin McHale will have enough focus on offense. The Rockets love to get up and down the floor, as they led or were near the top in most NBA offensive categories. The Rockets could be even more dangerous with Melo.
Another benefit, and maybe the biggest benefit of all that might make Houston more appealing than Chicago is the financial aspect. Reportedly, no matter where Melo lands, he stands to make close to $50 million less than he would if were to stay in New York. That’s a lot of money and maybe the only reason the Knicks are still alive in this pursuit. However, if Melo chose the Rockets he could gain some of that money back due to there being no state income tax in the state of Texas. We just saw Dwight Howard pull a similar move this past off-season, bolting out of L.A. to come to the Lone Star state. Howard, turned down a much bigger payday with the Lakers and has never looked back.
How big a deal is the money to Carmelo? What about his family? He and his family seem to be very comfortable in New York. However, the Bulls and Rockets offer a much clearer path to an NBA title than the Phil Jackson and the Knicks can offer right now. Carmelo, is definitely making the right decision to explore his options. Now, will he make the right choice? Not only for him and his family, but the team he chooses.