As of this morning, what's clear is that Frank Isola of the New York Daily News had an incorrect report. Carmelo Anthony was going to choose to go back to the Knicks, and would do so Thursday. Melo still may choose the Knicks but it definitely didn't happen yet.
Last night, Stephen A Smith got the ball rolling on Melo's once-again-indecision, with an emphasis back on the Bulls. Which in and of itself wasn't much to get excited about* but was then sort of corroborated by others. At least the idea that Anthony hasn't decided to go back to the Knicks, and that the Bulls are in play. Unfortunately the Lakers are too.
*(Isola may have screwed up...and may be eligible for the dreaded BaB blacklist, but SAS is just not credible. And first-take panelist wannabe Joe Cowley downplayed SAS's assertion, which is worth just as much)
Ken Berger of CBSSports laid out the choices last night. A lot of the article was was how the Knicks are kind of screwed when it comes to improving the team for this next season around Melo, but then this bit on the Bulls strategy:
The Bulls, meanwhile, have roster moves lined up that they believe will create enough cap room to lure Anthony, who is eligible for a four-year, $96 million deal if he changes teams. That deal would start at Anthony's max of $22.5 million -- a figure the Bulls would clear if they amnestied Carlos Boozer and traded Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy.
This took me a couple reads. I think Berger is saying two different things that could be conflated but perhaps shouldn't be:
- The Bulls have deals lined up to clear (what they believe is) enough space for Carmelo
- Carmelo's eligible max starts at $22.5m, it would take trades of Gibson (and others) to do so
I don't think this says: 'the Bulls have enough trades lined up to offer Carmelo his max'.
I hope they do, though we're not even sure they want to part with Taj in any scenario.
As we've kicked around here for days, I don't figure how the Bulls can bait the Knicks in a sign-and-trade without getting to a cap space number where Melo commits to the team. This is different than the concept that Melo would simply 'commit' to the Bulls first, and then hope the sign/trade gets him more money. To me, he'd have to commit with some dollar figure in mind, and the Bulls lack of cap space makes that figure extremely risky for Carmelo to accept in case the Knicks call his bluff. It's seemingly clear by now Melo wants more money than what the Bulls can offer outright.
It could work out: maybe Phil Jackson would want to do Melo a solid upon realizing he doesn't want to return to NY, and get some middling crud from the Bulls. But Phil seems to, ya know, want Anthony back and has the money to offer him. I also don't see how the 'use the Lakers as leverage for a Bulls move' actually comes to fruition either.
So what I'm hoping the Bulls are doing is the legwork to create the threat of max (or at least getting way closer than they are) cap space. That means lining up a trade of Taj Gibson (and as speculated in the comments and elsewhere, maybe that trade is for a S/T Pau Gasol for less $), so hopefully the Bulls don't have to actually do it, just say they can to get Melo to commit.
Or maybe the latest wasn't a change of heart of any kind, and Melo has either not decided, or decided a while ago and just trying to get the Knicks to pay more. At this point it may be enough to just want a commitment of any kind today.
And speaking of, LeBron is maybe making a decision today, and his hanging out with Dwyane Wade. I don't find LeBron's free agency a 'tease' at all, it's Ohio people going crazy, and some reporters employed by the 'leader in sports' being simply not smart or capable at their jobs. Stay vigilant, all of us consumers of media!