BY SAM SPIEGELMAN
The Carmelo Anthony free-agent tour is set to get underway this week, with meetings planned with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony said he hopes to pick a team by the second week of July, and that he has not ruled out returning to the New York Knicks.
Of the five potential landing spots, where does 'Melo fit in best? Here's the scoop:
Should we read into the tea leaves that he'll be visiting Chicago first? Maybe.
The Bulls seem like the perfect fit: a team lacking an elite scorer. But at the same time, this is a team based on defense, something over the course of his career Anthony has failed to show on a consistent basis.
The biggest pitfall here is what Chicago's roster would look like if it signed Anthony. JimmyButler, Mike Dunleavy, and Taj Gibson may be kicked to the door, then you have to wonder if losing those weapons is worth it.
Not to mention Derrick Rose hasn't been overwhelmingly warm about the prospect of playing alongside 'Melo.
Wow, a trio of Anthony, Dwight Howard, and James Harden. That's major.
The Rockets already sent Omer Asik packing and reportedly have deals to do the same to Jeremy Lin in order to make salary cap space for Anthony. The offense - it would be unstoppable. Two elite wing scorers plus Howard dominating in the paint.
But again, 'Melo's drawback - defense - comes into play. Harden is also a terrible defender, so who is going to be the Rockets' stopper in crunch time? That's what cost Houston its opening-round playoff series against Portland, and it'll bite them on the backside again in 2014-15, even with Anthony.
Anthony can reunite with Tyson Chandler in Big D, and play alongside another full of Hall of Famer in Dirk Nowitzki.
How much more does Nowitzki have in the tank, though? He's already on the downslope of his career, so a championship window with Dirk is probably smaller than you'd think.
Dirk and Anthony have a similar skill-set, and although Nowitzki has stated he'd be fine with a lesser role to make room for Anthony, you have to wonder what the value of joining the really Mavs is.
Los Angeles Lakers
By going to Los Angeles, Anthony would be entering a unique - and sort of risky - situation. On one hand, he can try to compete alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and potentially Pau Gasolin Year 1. And eventually, he can become the cornerstone of the historic organization.
But when Nash and Kobe hang up their cleats, Anthony will have to trust Lakers management to reassemble a roster catered around him. That may include a year or two of being stuck on a non-competitive team like Kobe went through.
There have been indications Anthony is interested in joining up with Gasol, who is also rumored to want to reunite with Phil Jackson in New York.
New York Knicks
No team can pay Anthony more than the Knicks, and money is the second-most important factor to Anthony other than a chance to win titles.
It has been suggested Anthony was a fan of the recent trade to acquire Jose Calderon, which gives the Knicks a true perimeter threat and pass-first point guard. Reports have also indicated Anthony loved playing at Madison Square Garden.
So far, Jackson has made some nice moves to revamp the roster, and returning Anthony is a major piece of the puzzle.
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