Pick A Plan
Scoring machine can play off Rose
Editor's note: In our Hot Button scenario, we are assuming the Bulls will use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer and keep their draft pick and the Charlotte pick. That would leave about $11 million in cap space, according to ESPN capologist Larry Coon. To sign Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls would have to shed Taj Gibson's $8 million salary as well as Mike Dunleavy's $3 million. Nikola Mirotic likely will command $7 million to $8 million to be lured over from Spain. Lance Stephenson is expected to command $10 million to $12 million per year as a free agent this summer.
He has the ability that so many other players crave. He can score 30 points almost any time he desires. He creates space for his teammates and could take pressure off Derrick Rose as he tries to come back a second time from knee surgery.
Is Anthony the best fit to play alongside Rose? Probably not. Like Rose, Anthony wants the ball in his hands a lot, and he has plenty of critics who believe he's not a team-first player.
But in his only college season, Anthony led Syracuse to a national championship. Count me in the group that believes Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can make Melo the best all-around player he's ever been. Anthony's scoring prowess would also take a significant amount of pressure off Rose as he makes his way back. Over time, the pair should be able to work together to become one of the most potent scoring duos in the league.
The only drawback to the Anthony-to-the-Bulls scenario is that it would almost certainly mark the end of Taj Gibson's tenure because of how the salary cap shakes out. Gibson has been playing the best basketball of his career and would be a natural fill-in after the Bulls likely amnesty the final year of Carlos Boozer's deal.
Even that shouldn't stop the Bulls from doing everything they can to make Melo a Bull. He is the type of player the front office knows it has been missing since Thibodeau came to town. He's a clear-cut scoring superstar who can play off Rose.
Those types of players don't hit the market every day, and the Bulls would be wise to make this marriage a reality.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.
Young SG good fit with system
We're playing general manager here, so suspend your disbelief. This is just a theoretical exercise.
International man of mystery Nikola Mirotic is the likely addition, Carmelo Anthony is the pipe dream. Either option means paying Carlos Boozer not to play for the Bulls through the amnesty provision. Adding Anthony would mean getting rid of core player Taj Gibson to open up cap space.
In a perfect world, I wouldn't bring Mirotic over yet (he still has to pay a buyout that the Bulls can only supplement). Instead, I would make a run at Indiana guard Lance Stephenson.
This, admittedly, is another pipe dream. But man, would this be a great addition, even after overpaying him as a free agent.
Stephenson is young, just 23, and on the rise.
Once considered another New York City knucklehead, with two serious legal/behavioral transgressions that we know about, he wouldn't be the typical Bulls addition.
But looking at him on the court, he's become a hard-charging, two-way shooting guard who is the best available free agent at the position this summer considering his age and ability.
He'd be perfect for the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau's system. Most importantly, you could keep Gibson, who is evolving into an All-Star snub-caliber talent, the kind of high-end player right below the All-Star names.
But money will be an issue. Indiana might not be able to afford him, but other teams will have even more cap space than the Bulls. But again, suspension of disbelief.
In my alternate reality, Stephenson would have a strong support system in the locker room, with fellow New Yorkers Gibson and Joakim Noah.
Chicago is going to have to make a hard sell to Stephenson. Forget the Rose recruiting storyline, I'd want Gibson, the pride of Fort Greene, as my lead salesman to another Brooklyn great.
It shouldn't be hard to sell Chicago to Stephenson either, especially with the team finishing up its city practice facility.
I don't foresee Stephenson being a Bull next year -- I'm a realist -- but just take some time to use your imagination and think about him playing next to Rose, Jimmy Butler, Noah and Gibson. That's enough to make Thibs smile.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.