The landscape of the NBA could be dramatically altered this week with some of the best scorers in the league considering a switch to other teams.
Nearly a week after Carmelo Anthony officially became a free agent, several teams remain in the hunt to sign him. The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls have separated themselves as the only conceivable landing spots for the 30-year-old.
Anthony took meetings with multiple suitors, but the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets appear to have fallen out of the race. Now, the veteran must choose between the NBA’s three largest markets.
In 11 seasons, Anthony has a career scoring average of 25.3 points per game, and has shot an impressive 45.3 percent from the field. His presence on any team would be a boon for attendance and television ratings.
The Knicks, Lakers and Bulls can make a strong case to sign Anthony, and he does not have an easy decision to make. There are multiple reasons to consider for each club.
Why Anthony will sign with the Knicks
No team can offer Anthony the kind of money that the Knicks can. Even if the Bulls attempt to clear salary-cap space, they won’t be able to offer him a max contract. The Lakers are willing to give Anthony a max deal, but their offer is worth approximately $97 million over four years, compared to New York’s five-year offer worth $129 million.
It’s highly unlikely that the Knicks can make roster changes that will make them contenders for a title in the 2014-2014 season. However, team president Phil Jackson has already made one significant trade, and more moves are likely on their way. The team is expected to go after Pau Gasol, a signing that could make New York the favorites to win the Atlantic Division. When power forwards Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani become free agents next season, the Knicks will have a chance to add another big time player.
Why Anthony will sign with the Lakers
L.A. reportedly made a strong impression in their pitch to Anthony, according to ESPN.com. The team can’t offer him the most money, and they might not have the best chance to give him a shot at reaching the NBA Finals like the Bulls. However, the Lakers have the ability to give Anthony a lot of money, while having flexibility to improve the team.
The Lakers have only a few players signed for next year, providing an opportunity to revamp a roster that won 27 games last season. The club has already added rookie Julius Randle, and the prospect of joining Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, a tandem that won back-to-back titles, appears to intrigue Anthony. The club can also add a head coach to Anthony's liking should he sign. Anthony has never won a title in the NBA, but he has won two gold medals with Bryant at the Olympics. If Anthony heads to Los Angeles, his relationship with Bryant will be one of the leading reasons.
Why Anthony will sign with the Bulls
If getting the largest possible contract is a big factor for Anthony, the Bulls don’t stand much of a chance. At this point in his career, though, money isn’t likely on the top of Anthony’s priority list. He’s been in the league since 2003, and made $29.4 million last year, according to Forbes. Anthony has largely been viewed as a player who puts up impressive statistics, but doesn’t win. He could change all of that by signing with Chicago.
Joining the Bulls could make Anthony and his new team the favorites to win the 2015 NBA title. While his presence would make the Lakers a contender, L.A. could still struggle in a competitive Western Conference. Even without Derrick Rose or Anthony last season, Chicago was still one of the top teams in the East. If LeBron James leaves the Miami Heat, the Bulls could take over as the next dominant team in the conference.