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Carmelo Anthony and the Chicago Bulls need each other

Wizards Cruise To Take 3-1 Lead


By BRIAN FITZSIMMONS
AOL.com Sports

One loss away from being cast into a cold offseason, Chicago is beyond trying to claw its way back into a seven-game series. The hapless Bulls look lost, failing to play off the momentum gained from a Game-Three win, and a lot less built for the playoffs than the upstart Washington Wizards.

Perhaps it's time for the franchise to start turning its focus on the sterling prize of free agency this summer.

More and more, the first round has further exposed an ugly truth about the Bulls: They are an overachieving team with their current roster, which desperately needs scoring prowess and more punch.

The brilliance of Tom Thibodeau kept the squad afloat in the watered-down Eastern Conference despite Derrick Rose suffering another devastating injury. The Bulls failed to score 100 or more points in 57 of their 82 games – dead last in the league – but entered the playoffs as a four-seed thanks to a top-ranked defense.

Chicago needs more. And come to think of it, the Bulls need Carmelo Anthony as much as Carmelo Anthony needs the Bulls.

Some have whispered about Houston emerging as a no-joke destination for the perennial all-star, and it makes sense. If Anthony wants the easiest road to a title, though, he'd be better off in a system made for him. Playing alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard – two superstars who predominantly need the ball to be successful – doesn't exactly sound like a dream marriage.

Serving as the main offensive catalyst, alongside Noah (a budding star who thrives off dirty work), Rose (a flashy point guard who brings a lot of value outside of shooting the ball) and a stellar supporting cast (highlighted by Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson) is the perfect situation.

More importantly, consider 2013-14 numbers of some notable trios around the league, in no particular order:

Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant (32 ppg, 7.4 reb, 5.5 ast); Russell Westbrook (21.8 ppg, 5.7 reb, 6.9 ast); Serge Ibaka (15.1 ppg, 8.8 reb, 1 ast) = 68.9 ppg, 21.9 reb, 13.4.

Miami Heat: LeBron James (27.1, 6.9 reb, 6.3 ast); Dwyane Wade (19 ppg, 4.5 reb, 4.7 ast); Chris Bosh (16. 2 ppg, 6.6 reb, 1.1 ast) = 62.3 ppg, 18 reb, 12.1 ast.

Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (24.1 ppg, 9.5 reb, 3.9 ast); Chris Paul (19.1 ppg, 4.3 reb, 10.7 ast); DeAndre Jordan (10.4 ppg, 13.6 reb, 0.9 ast) = 53.6, 24.5 reb, 15.5 ast.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (15.1 ppg, 9.7 reb, 3.0 ast); Tony Parker (16.7 ppg, 2.3 reb, 5.7 ast); Manu Ginobili (12.3 ppg, 3.0 reb, 4.3 ast) = 44.1 ppg, 15 reb, 13 ast.

Indiana Pacers: Paul George (21.6 ppg, 6.7 reb, 3.5 ast); Lance Stephenson (13.8 ppg, 7.2 reb, 4.6 ast); David West, because his numbers are better than George Hill's (14.0 ppg, 6.8 reb, 2.8 ast) = 49.4 ppg, 20.7 reb, 10.9 ast.

And, here is what would've been the Bulls' combination, including Anthony and Derrick Rose's numbers from last full campaign ...

Chicago Bulls: Carmelo Anthony (27.4 ppg, 8.1 reb, 3.1 ast); Joakim Noah (12.6 ppg, 11.3 reb, 5.4 ast); Derrick Rose (21.8, 3.4 reb, 7.9 ast) = 61.8 ppg, 22.8 reb, 16.4 ast.

According to those numbers, the group beats every trio in at least two categories. Now, I understand you can't infer a whole lot from these equations -- and expect Rose to return to the player he was -- but they certainly put things into context.

The arithmetic also serves as Chicago's top sales pitch. The second? Well, they received a flashy assist from Oscar Robertson, who urged Anthony to bolt the Big Apple, like, ASAP.

"I would leave today [if I were Carmelo]," Roberston said on SiriusXM NBA radio last Thursday. "... Let me tell you why: wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn't shoot they said he didn't shoot enough.

"No matter what he does in New York they're going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on (the Knicks) that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time."

Sure, but new president Phil Jackson's best ally right now is the hope of Anthony following the lead of other stars taking smaller paychecks for the good of the team.

"I think (there is) a precedent that's been set," Jackson said of stars taking less money to join or remain with contending teams, according to ESPN.com. "Because the way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it's really hard to have one or two top stars or max players, and to put together a team with enough talent, you've got to have people making sacrifices financially.

"So we hope that Carmelo is true to his word and we understand what it's going to take, and we will present that to him at that time."

Regarding a pay cut, if Anthony took less money to re-sign with the ever-rebuilding Knicks this summer, it wouldn't help the team's cap situation for 2014-15.

According to an ESPN report, unless Anthony takes a significant pay cut, the Knicks are expected to be over the salary cap due to the following dreadful commitments: Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler (14.6 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million).

That's neither here nor there; it shouldn't be Carmelo's problem anymore. He can sign a max contract worth $129 million over five years, and if he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is $95.8 million over four years. Perhaps a sign-and-trade deal is in the cards?

Whatever.

Anthony has grossed over $135 million over his career. He'll crack the 200-mark with this next deal, no matter where he chooses. This superstar is at a crossroad so many other hungry stars face around the 10-year mark of their time dazzling the basketball world: is winning a championship more important than squeezing out a couple more dollar bills?

How many paychecks would Charles Barkley have forfeited in exchange for a trophy? Do you think Karl Malone and John Stockton would shell out a portion of their lifetime earnings for one title? Anthony, years from now, will look back on this upcoming free agency and hopefully he remembers it as time of obsessing about a ring – and not so much about the cha-ching.

Remember, Chicago can also offer 'Melo legitimate championship hopes – and the grand opportunity to play in the same building as his idol, Michael Jordan, night after night – as part of its package. While faced with the potential future decision regarding Chicago, Anthony should retain his shoot-first mentality that's served him well over the years.

Don't pass.

Follow Brian Fitzsimmons on Twitter: @FitzWriter

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
dd1820 April 28 2014 at 10:46 AM

I cant WAIT for his EXIT from the game..........................

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1 reply
beverlyamy1 dd1820 April 28 2014 at 1:00 PM

way OVER-RATED.

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ajrimot April 28 2014 at 11:49 AM

Carmelo doesn't deserve to be a Bull! The Bulls have a standard, not just anyone can be a part of. You have to want to win to be a Bull; not just look good on the basketball court or stat chase...

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1 reply
Randy ajrimot April 28 2014 at 12:43 PM

Is Noah an example of the "Bull's Standard"?????? If so, its a pretty mediocre standard.

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tsterck April 28 2014 at 12:42 PM

Dude be more original with recycling the same old crap everyone else is saying. If every hall of fame player had such great insite to the game, Michael Jordans Bobcats would be a dynasty, so tell Oscar nicely to sit down. Going to the Bulls would be a nightmare for Melo...Chicago is on the brink of dismantling that team, Rose is no longer reliable, they lost Deng, Boozer is old, Dunleavy, please, Hinrich, serously, Noah, ok. The Bulls have a very good coach and that is what makes that team above average. If Melo stays with the Knicks, which he should, provided they don't hire whats his face, Steve Kerr...he may know Jackson's offense, but he's a clown and the players wont respect him. That was Woodson one strength. They need a starting point guard, have Felton back up, get healthy and WORK BARGNANI, SHUMP, Murray & Hardaway(defense) to death in the off-season. This current team can make it to the finals next year with some minor tweaks. This year the team had good coaching, not great, lacked the finishing games, poor point guard play and many injuries and horrible 2 guard play until late in the season. Melo has been tested by New Yorkers without a doubt, it took a few years, didnt like him as a player myself until this year. He has earned the respect he desirves and if he stays he will go down as one of the all time greats with a championship ring. He would never get that in Chi town as he will be under MJ's shadow. If he stay's, I garentee that the Knicks will win the Eastern Conference next season. Can they still make a play for Lowery, DK ? The Knicks are going to turn this around next season and Melo will get his championship soon. This league is wide open and watered down, thanks to the NBA paying toddlers to play. It's like watching the CBA, oops D-League. But thats another issue. Lastly...OUT with DONALD STERLING...and didnt like the Clippers throwing the game. Perhaps CP3 will opt out and be Knick. Dreaming...

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1 reply
beverlyamy1 tsterck April 28 2014 at 12:59 PM

yet you said nothing.

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rarabe55 April 28 2014 at 12:44 PM

The Bulls should draft someone who can score and play defense. Carmelo might increase scoring but would definately hurt their defense. He's also not a team player.

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jbaer10314 April 28 2014 at 1:29 PM

Tim Tebow sucks.

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jaze7 April 28 2014 at 12:59 PM

If Melo takes a pay cut for the sake of the team and the rebuilding system fails, then he can leave the Knicks knowing that he exhausted all possible methods. His detractors would have nothing to say if he ventured elsewhere to seek a ring.

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beverlyamy1 April 28 2014 at 12:58 PM

rose wont be 100% again so this may just work.

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madddddddddddddd April 28 2014 at 12:57 PM

this would be a mess from helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

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Randy April 28 2014 at 12:42 PM

The Knicks nor the Nets are not teams for anybody.... I pity the guys who end up at either of the "teams"

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1 reply
jbaer10314 Randy April 28 2014 at 1:28 PM

Easy to say when you don't work in either front office.

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Ken April 28 2014 at 12:19 PM

I think Carmelo would have a great chaNCE WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE HOUSTON ROCKETS!!!!!

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