Monday evening’s torrential downpour and blustery winds may or may not be a good omen for the Bulls heading into Tuesday’s meeting with free-agent target Carmelo Anthony, but if things like Chicago’s unpredictable weather, being personally recruited by Derrick Rose and having to take less than a maximum contract faze the superstar small forward, then maybe playing for the Bulls isn’t for him.
The likes of head coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Gar Forman, executive vice president John Paxson, assistant general manager Randy Brown, All-Star center Joakim Noah and power forward Taj Gibson are amongst the Bulls’ representatives who will attempt to woo Anthony, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, but the organization’s message will be more about steak than sizzle, fitting the reputation of both the city and team. The fact that Gibson is included, for instance, should signify to Anthony that while he would have to make a financial sacrifice to come to the Bulls — the contract of Gibson, who has the same agent, Mark Bartelstein, as first-round draft pick Doug McDermott, would have to be jettisoned in order to give Anthony closer to a maximum contract — his supporting cast in Chicago would be formidable.
Anthony has only missed the playoffs once in his 11-year career, last season in New York, but the deepest he’s advanced in the postseason is to the conference finals, back in 2009 with Denver. Playing in an Eastern Conference that’s perceived to be weaker — besides the Knicks, his current team, the only other city in the East he’s reportedly set to visit is Chicago, despite speculation about Miami — the scorer would have his best chance at playoff success, the logic goes, and the expectation would be that his addition would make the Bulls instant title contenders.
Not that there aren’t concerns regarding the Bulls, aside from the financial repercussions, which could be mitigated by off-court endorsements, particularly his Jordan Brand shoe contract, as Anthony would be the only non-adidas wearer in a hypothetical starting lineup of Rose, Noah, Gibson and swingman Jimmy Butler, in the city where Michael Jordan built his legend. But more importantly than sneakers is the health of Rose, who himself made the issue somewhat murky during a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports at former teammate Drew Gooden’s basketball camp in California, in which the former league MVP said he was undecided about participating in USA Basketball’s training camp later this month in Las Vegas. Whether or not the point guard plays for the national team, publicly casting doubt upon something that was seen as a definite is perceived as having the ability to affect Anthony’s decision, particularly because Rose, while praising the free agent, reaffirmed his stance about not recruiting players to the Bulls.
Subplots aside, this will be a business decision for Anthony and his family, one that he’s been contemplating for some time now. As much as the Bulls are considered the logical favorites to lure him from New York if he leaves the Knicks, the team that can pay him the most money, the scorer will do his due diligence, making a trip to Texas for Wednesday visits with the Rockets and Mavericks, then stopping by his offseason home in Los Angeles to sit down with the Lakers and reportedly giving ex-Bulls head coach Phil Jackson, the new Knicks president, a final opportunity at convincing him to stay put.
But the Bulls have the chance to make a first impression and with the stormy weather having passed through, the hope is that it’s clear as day to Anthony that Chicago should be his new home.