Boeheim: Melo will take pay cut to win

CHICAGO -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim believes his prized pupil, Carmelo Anthony, would take less money to sign with a contender this summer.

"In my opinion he wants to win," Boeheim told ESPNChicago.com on Tuesday. "I think that's the bottom line. He realizes that this is his peak, three or four years ahead, where's the best place to go and win? I think he'll take a little less money. I don't think that's that big of an issue. Obviously money is important to all of us. There's not many people in the media or any place else that take a better job if they're an extra 20 percent or 30 percent -- and it's still a good situation. Not many people turn those things down. But I think Carmelo wants to win, I think he wants to get into a place where he feels they have a legitimate chance to win. And I think that will be the driving [force], the thing that drives his decision. But obviously he's enjoyed New York, he likes his time there. But I think he wants to win."

Anthony officially opted out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks on Monday and is considering the Chicago Bulls, among several teams, as he figures out where he wants to play next.

Boeheim doesn't buy into the notion that Anthony is just going to sign with the team that can offer him the most money. The Knicks are the only team that can offer Anthony a five-year, max contract worth $129 million. The Bulls, like the rest of Anthony's suitors, can offer the All-Star only a four-year deal, maximum $96 million contract.

To clear that kind of space, the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and then gut the rest of their roster. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Anthony would be joined by a slew of players on minimum salary deals.

The Bulls, like everyone else in the Anthony sweepstakes, are hoping that Anthony will take a little less to build a championship foundation around him.

"I don't think it's a money issue," Boeheim said. "I think he wants to obviously make what is a fair wage like everybody else. I don't think Phil Jackson is taking a minimum salary in New York. I don't think Derek Fisher is, I don't think [Carmelo] should. I think LeBron James is a good example. They're both looking at what's the best place for them from a business perspective. And players can do that now, it's the rules. It's the way [the system's] set up. And I think they should try and make that decision. But it is a hard decision; you don't know exactly where you can go and when."

Boeheim, who guided Anthony and Syracuse to a national championship in 2003, believes that a piece of Anthony's heart remains in New York, but he is intrigued by the possibilities in Chicago.

"I think he likes New York," Boeheim said. "I think he's really enjoyed being there. I think his family enjoys it. Yes, I think he does like that. But I think at the end of the day, you have to make a decision on where is the best place to win. Where can you win? And that should be what drives this decision. I think it is what will drive this decision.

"The problem with that is you're just speculating now. 'All right, I come to Chicago, Derrick Rose gets hurt again. Now where are we? How tough is it now to win?' If you've got a healthy Derrick Rose, and the other pieces they have in [Joakim] Noah is certainly one of the best defensive all-around centers in the game. You've got [Jimmy] Butler, you've got a lot of little pieces there, a lot good players, you've got a great coach, a proven coach [in Tom Thibodeau]. I think it's is an interesting choice."

Boeheim knows the health of Rose, who has played just 49 games the past three seasons because of two knee injuries, will be a question Anthony must ponder as he tries to process his decision.

"Obviously that's something that you have to think about, in terms of how healthy Derrick Rose is," Boeheim said. "But I think Carmelo would enjoy playing for Tom. I got to know Tom last summer. I think he's a great coach. I think he's got a good feel for players, how to deal with players, how to talk to them, how to get the best out of them, how to be tough, when to be tough. I think he'd be a great guy to play for, I really do and I think Carmelo would enjoy that. But it's a tough decision, there's no question about it."