The Bulls are widely viewed as the Knicks’ biggest threat in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. But two new teams emerged Tuesday that are worth keeping an eye on.
The Clippers and Lakers are both interested in pursuing Carmelo, sources told ESPN.com.
This is significant because Anthony already owns a home in Los Angeles. So the issue of uprooting his family -- while still a factor -- wouldn’t seem to be as much of an impediment in L.A. as it would be if he ended up in, say, Houston.
Also, Anthony has talked about his affinity for playing in a big market -- and both L.A. teams fit that description.
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at the Lakers’ and Clippers’ pursuits of Melo:
Clippers: If Carmelo is looking to land with a contender, the Clippers make sense. But it won’t be easy for the franchise to land Carmelo -- or LeBron James, another one of its targets according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.
The Clippers are currently committed to $76 million in salary. So it would be extremely difficult for them to clear enough cap space to sign Anthony or James outright. The more likely scenario is a sign-and-trade.
As Shelburne reports, the Clippers would probably have to deal a combination of DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes to make a deal work. Jamal Crawford could also be thrown into the mix. (Blake Griffin, meanwhile, is untouchable in a sign-and-trade, sources told Shelburne.)
Jordan is one of the top centers in the NBA. His arrival would likely force the Knicks to move Tyson Chandler. One issue here for the Knicks is that Dudley can be on the books through the 2015-16 season for $4.25 million, which would eat into New York’s cap space for the summer of 2015.
The draw for Anthony -- in addition to joining a team that is championship ready -- would be an opportunity to play with his close friend Chris Paul. To make all of this happen, though, the Knicks would have to first agree to participate in a sign-and-trade. It is unclear at this point if they are willing to do so.
Lakers: Kobe Bryant's big two-year extension took a ton of the Lakers’ cap space, but the franchise still has its eyes on LeBron and Carmelo, ESPN.com’s Shelburne reported.
Shelburne reports that the Lakers have been talking to teams about dealing the No. 7 overall pick along with Steve Nash's expiring contract ($9.7 million) to free up enough salary to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million next season.
That would be a big pay cut for both. But, as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has stated, both stars have expressed the desire to play with one another. Anthony is also very close to Bryant, so this may be a scenario that appeals to him.
Of course, if the Lakers strike out on landing James, that would give them even more money to offer Carmelo, assuming they can find a taker for Nash.
So the Lakers could put themselves in position to sign Anthony outright, rather than having to execute a sign-and-trade. This transaction would probably prevent them from acquiring Kevin Love. Love has long been a Lakers target. So that’s a factor worth considering here.
We should also note that Anthony can earn the most money in New York. He can sign a max contract of $129 million over five years with the Knicks. But it is unclear if the Knicks are willing to give him that much money. He can still make that max in a sign-and-trade. But if he were to sign with another team outright, the most he can make is $96 million over four years.
Question: Do you think Carmelo will end up with one of the teams in L.A.? Or do you see him re-signing with the Knicks?
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.