Don't count on seeing Carmelo as a Bull

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
3:33
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Carmelo AnthonyChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony might look good in a Bulls uniform, but would the price be too steep?
CHICAGO -- Yes, the Chicago Bulls are interested in Carmelo Anthony. Who wouldn't be? If a team has a chance to land a player of his caliber, in any kind of trade, it would be foolish not to listen.

That's exactly what Bulls general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president of operations John Paxson are doing right now. They have seen and heard about the Yahoo! Sports report that says the Bulls are high on Anthony's wish list. They're listening to whatever Denver might be saying, and they're listening to one another and the rest of their staff.

[+] EnlargeJoakim Noah
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireJoakim Noah will make $3.1 million next season and will become a restricted free agent after the season if the Bulls don't extend him.
The idea of pairing up Derrick Rose and Anthony for years to come has to make the duo salivate. But in order to land Anthony, is it worth having to trade away several other key pieces of a young, formidable team that appears only to be getting better? That's the question that Forman and Paxson have to figure out long before they enter into any kind of serious discussions with the Nuggets.

At the forefront of that quandary is this specific question:

Are the Bulls willing to include Joakim Noah in a deal that would bring Anthony to Chicago?

In many ways, that is probably the only way this deal would get done. There's been speculation for several months that if the Bulls make an offer for Anthony it would include Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, James Johnson and/or draft picks and cash.

But why would Denver accept that deal? Deng has four years and almost $52 million left on his contract. Not to mention the fact that he has had a hard time staying healthy the past few years. Gibson is a solid player who is only going to get better, but he isn't ever going to turn into a superstar. Johnson is a project, and it's debatable whether he will ever earn any meaningful minutes for any team.

You're telling me the Nuggets can't find a better deal than that somewhere?

Now, if the Bulls are willing to part with Noah then everything changes. Adding Noah to the deal makes it more palatable for the Nuggets to take on Deng's contract. But even then they would probably still insist that Gibson and/or picks and cash be included. Why take on all the extra money owed to Deng unless you are getting several young, potential game-changers, in return?

It's hard to imagine any scenario in which this deal gets done without Deng being involved because of the way the salary cap numbers shake out, but even with Noah involved it may not be a slam dunk. The Nuggets would have to work out a new deal with Noah at some point before next summer, or else risk having their key trade piece become a restricted free agent at the year and watch him potentially walk away.

If they did find a way to re-sign Noah, that would mean they most likely would have over $100 million invested in Noah and Deng over the next few years on a team that clearly appears to be headed into serious rebuilding mode.

If the Nuggets don't pick up Chauncey Billups' $14.2 million option next summer, (assuming, of course there isn't a lockout), the Nuggets essentially become the Bulls JV team, minus Rose and Carlos Boozer. Now, is it worth it for them to go that route or try to find a better deal with a team that has even younger, less expensive pieces, like the Clippers for example? That's something that new Denver GM Masai Ujiri must figure out.

In the meantime, Forman and Paxson have to go through the same kind of thought process: Is it worth it to trade Noah, Deng and Gibson for Anthony?

The guess here is that the ultimate conclusion will be no.

The Bulls would gladly deal Deng, Gibson, Johnson cash and picks to the Nuggets for Carmelo. If they can convince Ujiri that's the best offer he can get then GarPax instantly vaults up to second place in the executive of the year voting behind Pat Riley and the Bulls will truly be able to go toe to toe with the Lakers, Heat, Magic and Celtics for a title for years to come. But if Forman and Paxson give up Noah, Deng and Gibson for Anthony how much closer to a title are they really?

Who plays center for the Bulls? An unproven rookie in Omer Asik or a grizzled veteran like Kurt Thomas? How do they line up with a Lakers frontline which includes Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom? Who is going to deal with Dwight Howard in a seven-game series? A starting lineup that included Rose, Anthony and Boozer would be very good but how much better, if at all, would it be than a Rose, Noah, Deng, Boozer lineup with Gibson coming off the bench?

Are the Bulls any closer to a title with Anthony if they have to give up Noah in the process?

That's the question that is spinning around the heads of Forman and Paxson right now and that's why, in the end, I don't think you'll see the Bulls and Nuggets make a deal unless Denver gets desperate at the last minute and accepts some kind of proposal which includes Deng, Gibson and a potpourri of other things that Bulls wouldn't mind unloading.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 3.3 1.5 39.6
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.9
AssistsD. Rose 5.1
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 1.9