At the end of the 2013-2014 season, Carmelo has an opportunity to opt out of his contract to secure another long-term deal and play for a contending team. It’s an opportunity that Carmelo is not going to pass up either. In an interview with Ian Begley of ESPN New York, Carmelo said, “It’s definitely an opportunity that I’m willing to explore and experience.” Diplomatically, he went on to say that New York is where he wants to be, but he has always indicated that he will go where he has the best chance to win, admitting that “my window is closing.” Earlier this week, Sports Unbiased writers Jr. Williams and I debated the likelihood of Carmelo joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Today, however, they are turning focus to the other major player in the Carmelo sweepstakes: the Chicago Bulls. Check out what we had to say.
1. Would Carmelo and Derrick Rose mesh together offensively?
Jr. Williams: No, Melo wouldn’t mesh well with D-Rose on the offensive side of the floor for two reasons. First, if Melo were a member of the Bulls, he would first have to make the commitment on the defensive end of the court, and you know just as well as anyone, Melo will not make a full defensive commitment. Second, D-Rose orchestrates the offense, his scoring intensity fuels the rest of the team because he has the ability to place his teammates in a position to score. Melo is a isolation player, he slows down the tempo, and at this stage of his career I doubt he would take to being a second option on a team that plays defense, that’s not his M.O.
Tim Snyder: Because Derrick Rose is coming off of two major knee injuries, he is going to need to take it slow when he comes back. This will allow Carmelo to carry the load offensively initially and really help him to get acclimated to the new Chicago atmosphere. Because I don’t think Rose will ever be back to his MVP form, he may need to find a new role altogether. It’s obvious that his body cannot handle his herky-jerky style of play for extended minutes. One possible solution is that he could come in off the bench in a less featured role. This could allow him and Carmelo to take over the game at different points and help Chicago to stay in a continuous attack mode.
2. Would Carmelo buy in to a defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau system?
Jr. Williams: Yes, I don’t think Melo would have a choice, Thibodeau runs the team, its not the other way around. The question is, how long would Melo commit to defense? He hasn’t shown any significant effort into becoming a better defender, but I honestly think Thibodeau would change his attitude.
Tim Snyder: I’m not sure that Carmelo would ever buy into any defensive minded system, but this may not matter too much. Chicago could very easily hide Carmelo inside of their scheme. They have great defenders all around him in Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Kirk Hinrich (very underrated ball hound) that take pride in being defensive studs. Keep in mind, Carmelo gets a lot of bad publicity for his defensive woes, but when he is slotted in the power forward position (his likely spot in Chicago) he is nowhere near a defensive liability. In fact, his strength allows him to guard other quality 4s, while his speed and quickness is more suited for guarding that position as well. On top of all that, Carmelo has proved this year that he can be a very good rebounder when asked.
3. Would Carmelo play at small forward or power forward?
Jr. Williams: He would more than likely play at his original position in which he is most effective. Then again, the Bulls are a small team and he could easily replace their current forward Carlos Boozer. Melo would be an upgrade at the position and add a significant boost in the scoring and rebounding areas. More importantly, Melo would have to replace Boozer, both players can’t co-exist.
Tim Snyder: As I mentioned above, Carmelo could be a very good power forward on the defensive side of the ball. But he could be an even better power forward offensively. It doesn’t really make sense why New York hasn’t utilized this potential, but you can be sure that the great Tom Thibodeau would not miss out on maximizing this talent. Playing Carmelo primarily at the power forward position would allow Thibodeau and the Bulls to create match-up nightmares against heavy footed players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Also, it would help the Bulls match-up with the Miami Heat in the playoffs, while still maintain a strength advantage down low, especially if they hang on to Taj Gibson.
4. If Anthony joined the Bulls would they instantly be better than the Heat and Pacers?
Jr. Williams: I don’t think so, but if Derrick Rose can return from injury in rare form, there’s no reason the Bulls cant manage to be one of the top-4 teams in the Eastern Conference. A top-4 team in the East sounds a hell of a lot better than being one of the worst teams in the East (New York Knicks). But to answer the question, no, the Bulls would not be an instant elite team. They still have issues at the back-up point guard position, unless they plan on running D-Rose into the ground.
Tim Snyder: If Carmelo Anthony joined the Bulls, they would immediately catapult into contention with both the Pacers and the Heat. However, that alone would not be enough. Derrick Rose would have to be healthy and playing at an MVP caliber level for the Bulls to be the best in the East. With a healthy Rose, Carmelo and Derrick Rose could be attacking from multiple angles on the floor and making the game easier for each other (similar to the way Wade and LeBron do). Their shooting percentages and efficiency would skyrocket, and other players on the team would get easier shots as well. Saying all that, I would still place them behind the Heat and Pacers because I don’t think I could ever trust Derrick Rose’s knees long term.
5. Will Derrick Rose’s injury track record play a role in Carmelo’s decision to go to Chicago?
Jr. Williams: That’s a good question considering Amare Stoudemire can’t seem to stay healthy since luring Melo to New York several seasons ago. When healthy, Derrick Rose is arguably one of the top-5 players in the league, Melo hasn’t played alongside a superstar caliber player since his tenure with Allen Iverson and the Denver Nuggets. Even then, Iverson was on the down slope of his career while Rose is only 25 years of age with plenty of basketball left in him. Derrick Rose’s ability to recover from his latest injury could be a small benefactor in his decision to play for Chicago, then again, if Rose fails to return from injury with his original explosiveness, it could be an opportunity for Melo to be the #1 offensive option for the Bulls. I think we can agree on that.
Tim Snyder: Actually, I agree a little bit more than you on this question. Derrick Rose’s injuries will definitely play a huge role in Carmelo’s decision to come to Chicago. Being chained to another injury prone teammate (Amare Stoudemire) will only keep Anthony in basketball purgatory. During this off-season, it’s vital that Anthony sit down and make a logical decision about the future of his career. In today’s league, superstars joining together do not always equal success, just take a look at last year’s Lakers. Teams need to be healthy, so chemistry can be built and playoff battles can be endured. Unfortunately, it looks like Derrick Rose’s knees could join the ranks of the Penny Hardaway’s and Brandon Roy’s. Even if Rose does eventually return to form, it may take two or three years of hard work and good luck. Does Anthony want to waste that much time waiting? Does his 29 year old legs even have enough time to wait? Waiting and praying on Rose is a serious gamble for Anthony, a legacy defining gamble that he probably shouldn’t take.
About the Author: Tim Snyder
Growing up, I was all about basketball, playing every day from sun up to sun down. In high school, I was named Southwest Florida Player of the Year and eventually earned a scholarship to play at FGCU. There, I was a starting Power Forward and an academic All-American.