Opening Tip: Melo to the Bulls?


Melo Drama has hit the Midwest.

Chicago has been abuzz with rumors that Carmelo Anthony may sign with the Bulls as a free agent this summer.

Someone asked Melo on Tuesday if he’s thought about the possibility of playing for the Bulls.

“Not at all,” he said.

What about his relationship with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau?

“I don’t have one with Thibs,” he said.

For the most part, Anthony has been reluctant to discuss his free agency. Back in September, he said he’d like to be courted as a free agent. Two months later, he said he’d like to retire as a Knick. But Carmelo made that statement early in the season, before the Knicks devolved into one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA.

Anthony has recently stuck to a stock answer for all free-agency questions, saying he plans to evaluate his future after the season.

Melo did shed some light on his thinking earlier this week when he talked about the importance of winning an NBA title.

“That’s the only thing I care about. Anything else is irrelevant to me when it comes to basketball,” Anthony said Monday. “Championship is the only thing that’s on my mind, is the only thing I want to accomplish, I want to achieve, and I’m going to do what I got to do to get that. That’s my motivating factor. Nothing else even motivates me anymore, just that.”

Those words on their own aren’t newsworthy. Every player wants to win a championship. But in the context of Anthony’s pending free agency, they hold a little more weight.

Reading between the lines, it’s clear an opportunity to win an NBA title will be high on Anthony’s wish list when he considers his suitors this summer.

And that brings us back to the Bulls.

Chicago would have to cut a significant amount from its payroll to have enough salary-cap space to afford Anthony.

The Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and then trade either Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah to a team that could absorb the salary in order to have enough space to sign Anthony to anything close to a max contract. Gibson is more likely to be moved if the Bulls were forced to choose between the two bigs. But the feeling from those who cover the Bulls regularly is that it's a long shot at best that the Bulls will clear enough space to land Anthony.

Let’s say for a second that the Bulls cleared the requisite cap space to sign Anthony. He would then have to decide if it was worthwhile to leave $33 million on the table to sign with the Bulls.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer him a maximum contract of $129 million over five years. Other suitors, such as Chicago, can offer Anthony a maximum of $96 million over four years.

The more likely scenario is a sign-and-trade. But the Knicks would agree to that type of transaction only if they thought Anthony was leaving in free agency.

And here's one more factor to consider: Anthony would have to decide if he’s willing to share the United Center spot light with Chicago native Derrick Rose. Lastly, he'd have to be confident that Rose can still be an elite player after two major knee surgeries.

So those are some of the variables at play when you’re talking about Anthony going to the Bulls. Let the Melo Drama in the Midwest begin.

Up now: The Knicks posted a blowout victory over Boston on Tuesday, their third straight win -- but they may have lost Iman Shumpert to a shoulder injury.

Kenyon Martin hurt his ankle, but he said after the game that the injury is minor.

Lastly, Carmelo Anthony said he “supports” his wife, La La, who said she thought Anthony would re-sign with the Knicks this summer.

What’s next: The Knicks will take the day off and will come back to the Garden on Thursday to play the Cavs.

Question: Do you think Chicago is a legitimate suitor for Carmelo Anthony?

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