Despite possible sanctions for tampering, the Chicago Bulls and center Joakim Noah have reportedly begun to recruit Carmelo Anthony.
The second-leading scorer in the NBA and the star of the beleaguered 22-40 New York Knicks, Anthony can test free agency this summer and the Bulls, with their big market, top coach, and second star in Derrick Rose, have been a rumored destination for quite some time.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Noah and Anthony spoke during last month’s All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, and the two-time All-Star center told Anthony that his best chances to secure his legacy and win a championship are with the Bulls. Noah apparently dismissed the Los Angeles Lakers, the other mega-market team that could have enough space to sign Anthony this summer.
The report also stressed Rose wants to team up with Anthony, and would recruit him when free agency begins on July 1 if the Bulls asked.
By comparing the Bulls and Knicks, it’s clear one team has proved resilient and careful with its budget, while the other has been plagued by mismanagement.
Even with Rose out for all but 10 games in the last two seasons, the Bulls have remained playoff contenders thanks to their second ranked defense. All they’ve really missed a true No. 1 scoring option, and Anthony could certainly fill that role.
The Knicks recently snapped a seven-game losing streak, and are currently 5.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the East, with carrying the majority of the scoring load with 28.1 points per game.
Earlier this year the 29-year-old said he would take less money to stay with the Knicks if it meant they could bring him some help. New York won’t have any real salary cap space until 2015, with the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani coming off the books.
Anthony publicly stating that he would take less money to win has to encourage Chicago’s management. Chicago is expected to use the amnesty clause on the remainder of forward Carlos Boozer’s contract, and possibly trade forward Mike Dunleavy, thus clearing enough space to sign Anthony to a four-year deal. New York can offer Anthony a fifth year and $30 million more in a maximum-level deal.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, tampering is defined as when a player or team directly or indirectly tries to persuade a player under contract with another team to join up. Teams can face suspensions or fines upwards of $50,000. The NBA waits for teams to officially file a complaint before taking any action.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson expressed his thoughts on whether the Bulls tampered with this star.
“I’m not going to get into all of that. You know legally nobody can recruit anyone. You can’t do that at this point,” Woodson said Thursday according to the New York Post. “Melo is still wearing a Knicks uniform, and I hope he stays with the Knicks for the rest of his career. I’ve always said that. So whatever was said between Noah and the Chicago Bulls, that’s on them.”