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Why a Carmelo Anthony trade to Chicago makes sense

New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony celebrates with Steve Novak after scoring the tying basket against the Chicago Bulls to send the game into overtime at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, April 8, 2012. The Knicks beat the Bulls, 100-99 in overtime. (Errol Anderson/Newsday/MCT)

According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, the New York Knicks are getting close to trading their star forward, Carmelo Anthony. In a recent piece on Grantland about Suns forward Markieff Morris, Lowe wrote “The Kings and Knicks should take a look [at Morris], even though neither has movable assets that would interest Phoenix — unless the Knicks are ready to engage in Carmelo Anthony trade talks. (They’re not there, yet. But they’re getting closer).”

Many NBA writers and insiders have speculated  rookie Kristaps Porzingis’ development will be stunted by playing alongside Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis has loads of potential, but as a European player, many speculate his development in the NBA will be delayed. At 31 years old, Carmelo Anthony needs to win now and has already expressed displeasure in the Knicks’ roster in the past year. The Knicks added no major free agents in the summer, and with superstars like Kevin Durant proving you can be a star regardless of your market size, New York is going to continue to have difficulty recruiting free agents.

Carmelo seems to be approaching the same conclusion many already have arrived at: if he wants to win a championship in the next five years, he needs to leave the Knicks. As many have already begun speculating, the number one destination for Carmelo Anthony in a trade would be the team he almost signed with last summer: the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls have been trying to get past Lebron-led teams in the Eastern Conference since Derek Rose’s MVP season in 2010. So far, the formula of surrounding Derek Rose with above-average role players and solid defense has not worked. While Jimmy Butler has recently emerged as a second star alongside Rose, the Bulls could not beat the Cavs even with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love missing the series. With the Cavaliers having another year of playing together, and the Bulls adding no free agents, it seems highly improbable that the Bulls will reach the NBA Finals in 2016.

Many in the Bulls organization feel that the changing of coaches will improve the team enough to finally get past Lebron and Co., but that argument is flawed at best. Tom Thibodeau is a former Coach of the Year and the best defensive coach in the NBA. While he may have had problems with the front office, the limited amount of controversy his firing alleviates will not replace his massive impact on the defensive end. Rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg is unproven, and while many are predicting quick success for him in the NBA, it’s highly unlikely his impact will put the team in the NBA Finals.

This Bulls team, as it is currently constructed, is doomed to the same fate as the 1990s New York Knicks: finish second in the conference year after year, barely losing to the best player in the NBA. The Bulls’ only chance to finally get past Lebron and reach the NBA Finals is to massively reshape their team. The Bulls are currently locked into their roster and the only way they can change the complexion of their team is a blockbuster trade.

In 2016, with a new TV deal in place, the NBA salary cap is set to explode and should be in triple digits by 2018. If by the trade deadline the Knicks are out of realistic playoff contention and are listening to offers for Carmelo, the Bulls need to do everything in their power, short of trading Rose or Butler, to land him. With the new salary cap, the Bulls will have enough cap space to add him to their roster, and Carmelo is worth paying the luxury tax for. Carmelo made the wrong decision to resign with the Knicks in the summer of 2014, a mistake Carmelo himself has hinted at. At 31 years old, Carmelo’s prime window to win an NBA championship and become an all-time great is closing fast.

To get Carmelo, the Bulls would likely have to send Joakim Noah and his expiring contract to New York, along with Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, Tony Snell, and some package of draft picks. While this trade would deplete the Bulls of their depth, the Bulls starting five of Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Anthony, and Gasol would be arguable the best in the league. The Bulls would still have young bigs Nikola Mirotic and rookie Bobby Portis on their bench to fill the void of the departures of Noah and Gibson.

The greatest weakness the Bulls would take on as a result of this trade would be a lack of post defense. While in the past poor post defense would have been has been a fatal flaw for an NBA team, the current NBA is moving more and more towards small ball. The Bulls main opponents in the East, the Cavs and revamped Miami Heat, have no real post up threats. While the Bulls would surely struggle to defend with two post up threats such as the San Antonio Spurs, the Bulls first priority should be getting out of the Eastern Conference.

With Carmelo Anthony and the introduction of Hoiberg’s new fast paced offense, the Bulls would transition from a perennial defensive juggernaut under Thibodeau, to a high scoring offensive powerhouse.

Ultimately, a trade is in Carmelo Anthony’s hands. He has to waive his no trade clause and the Knicks would be unlikely to move him without their superstar asking for a move. Carmelo has already shown some regret about signing with the Knicks, and those problems will only be amplified this year as the Knicks seem to be a lottery team once again. With his NBA legacy hanging in the balance, Anthony should correct the mistake he made last summer, and go chase a title alongside Rose in Chicago.

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Adam Reckamp, Author

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