Bulls unified in pitch to Carmelo Anthony
July, 2, 2014
By Nick Friedell
AP Photo/M. Spencer GreenDerrick Rose leaves the United Center on Tuesday. The Bulls' star, who had insisted he wouldn't help woo Carmelo Anthony to Chicago, was part of the contingent that met with the coveted free agent.CHICAGO -- When it comes to the recruiting pitch to Carmelo Anthony, everybody in the Chicago Bulls' organization is on the same page.
Derrick Rose, who has said repeatedly over the years he doesn't want to recruit players, was there at the United Center on Tuesday to be part of the group that sold Anthony on the benefits of coming to Chicago.
Gar Forman and Tom Thibodeau, two men who have not always seen eye-to-eye on various decisions over the last few seasons, spent the entire day discussing the virtues of the Bulls' organization with Anthony.
They walked him through the Bulls' brand-new practice facility in the afternoon and continued selling him on the organization at a dinner meeting inside a downtown hotel. The pair got into the same car around 10 p.m. and drove away to wait out Anthony's decision over the next week.
As an organization, the Bulls have been focusing on this pitch to Anthony for a while. They know he is the type of player they've been missing the most. They know he is the man who can score 25 to 30 points a night and take a large amount of pressure off Rose's shoulders. That's why they left no detail unturned during their day with the superstar scorer.
It's the reason why Thibodeau picked Anthony up in a large van and personally escorted the All-Star small forward and members of his team to the United Center. It's why the Bulls made sure pictures of Anthony wearing a Bulls jersey were plastered all over the facade of the arena, along with images of the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Melo signs, with championship trophies, wrapped all around the United Center. pic.twitter.com/uxlv8MEiDS— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) July 1, 2014
It's why Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson rolled inside to be with Thibodeau, Rose and other members of the organization to sell Anthony on the pitch -- the vision for Chicago's future. That pitch isn't hard to figure out and it's why one Bulls official after another was so quietly confident before, during and after their time with Anthony on Tuesday.
The Bulls believe they offer former Syracuse star the best opportunity to win a championship right now. They believe the core of Rose, Noah, Gibson and Thibodeau is tough to beat and only getting better. They believe they can win and have pushed all their chips into the middle of the table based on the notion Anthony is the man that can finally get them over the hump.
Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony was escorted to the United Center by none other than Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Now the ball is in Anthony's court.
The Bulls are hopeful Anthony will go through the rest of the recruiting process and remember what he saw and heard on Tuesday. That he will buy into what the Bulls are selling.
But as Anthony processes what he encountered in Chicago and Bulls' personnel give each other handshakes for what they feel is a job well done, Anthony has a major decision to make on two levels.
First, is he ready to leave a place in New York City that he truly seems to love? A place where he and his family appear to be happy. Most important, especially for the Bulls, is he willing to leave millions upon millions on the table in order to play in Chicago?
Even the most optimistic Bulls' official doesn't have the answer.
New York Knicks czar Phil Jackson still has the ultimate financial trump card, if he chooses to play it. He can offer Anthony a full max deal worth up to $129 million over five years.
The Bulls can offer only $96 million over four years. However, that’s a figure they would rather not hit if they had to sign Anthony outright, because it would mean they would have to let go of a host of meaningful players, including Gibson.
Rose and Noah would still be safe at that max amount for Anthony. But is a core of Rose, coming off missing almost three seasons because of knee injuries, Noah and Anthony enough to get the Bulls to the promised land?
That's a question the Bulls must ponder as they continue to hope against hope the Knicks would agree to a sign-and-trade, which would offer Chicago a much better option to keep its roster somewhat intact.
The key to their pitch is that it followed a mantra that Noah lives by on a daily basis: The Bulls lived in the moment and they enjoyed it.
They don't know how the rest of Anthony's tour will shake out, but they know they did everything they could to put their best foot forward.
Indeed, on one of the most important days in recent franchise history, the Bulls were united on every level in trying to bring Anthony to Chicago.