Maybe it’s just me, but it already feels like the Bulls are getting used by Carmelo Anthony.
There he was Sunday, Instagrammed in Air Jordan wear while seeing Paris with the Pippens, which pretty much covers the heart of the Bulls' six titles.
The Bulls are looking for a seventh, and they believe Anthony will come to Chicago to help them find it after he told the Knicks he’ll opt out of his contract to pursue free agency.
The Bulls are said to be the team Anthony wants to play for. That might be something only the Bulls are saying because it’s good business. Or something only Anthony’s agents are saying because it’s good business.
Anthony shares an agent with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. That’s something the Bulls want out there, too, but Anthony’s agent ought to be smart enough to know that the Bulls coach kills his players. Just kills them. And what would that mean for a 30-year-old?
Thibodeau said his team had nothing left when it went out in the first round this year. That’s what he does every year. The Spurs coach doesn’t. One wins titles, one doesn’t.
Of course, a first-round playoff loss is more than Anthony experienced this season. The Knicks went 37-45, and the free agency watch began with the expectation that Anthony valued winning over max money, but then Anthony’s exit interview included this: “The grass isn’t always greener.’’
Anthony can opt out and still opt back in with the Knicks. Anthony can opt out and stay out, signing with the team he believes has the best chance to win a title. In that case, he would sign for less money.
In the Bulls’ case, he would sign for less than half of the $129 million the Knicks could give him. See how the Bulls could easily be used here?
Anthony previously said he would take less money, but indicated during the season he wouldn’t take much below his market value. To put a face on the finances, it’s one thing to take less than Kobe Bryant, but it’s farfetched to take less than Rudy Gay. Repeating: See how the Bulls could easily be used here?
Being used appears to be the Bulls’ purpose around the NBA. Many free agents talk about the opportunity in Chicago, but no great players come to the Bulls, and nobody knows why. If some people do know why, they’re not saying, and if the Bulls are the ones who know why, they haven’t figured out a way to change it.
It’s not for lack of effort. The Bulls showed up big and serious for LeBron James in 2010, but they wasted their time because James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had made their choice in 2008 and were just waiting for the chance to gang up on the same team.
Ever since, the Heat have been the only team to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Connect the dots, people.
If Anthony is willing to take less money to play for a team he believes can win a title, then he ought to wait until LeBron James decides whether to stay or opt out. If the Bulls are going to throw themselves at someone, then they, too, ought to wait until James decides.
James ought to be the first step for players and teams alike. Smart players and teams, anyway. Wherever he goes, NBA Finals appearances follow. Ditto titles. If Anthony is too stupid to recognize that, I don’t want him.
Or maybe Anthony is opting out with the hopes of convincing James to opt out and join him in New York. It’s what James does. He’s a joiner. He joins an existing star and brings another one with him, and like that, the rest of the conference dies.
Think about it: Anthony takes less money, but stays in New York to satisfy his wife and her career, and here comes the best player on the planet. Don’t tell me that’s not attractive to everyone, including James’ marketers. And don’t tell me about a salary cap when James already has taken less money in the same situation.
Oh, and new Knicks coach Derek Fisher is said to be tight with Kevin Durant, who could become a free agent in 2 years, just in case you wanted to know how bad this could get for a certain local basketball team that previously has been spurned and likely will again.
The Bulls already have thrown themselves at Anthony the way you’d expect a lovelorn team to do. I don’t blame them for trying. I just pity their high hopes. You know how this movie ends, the same way you know how Bulls seasons end.
The Bulls are trying to change the script of the seasons, but they have yet to show they can change the script to the offseason, so forget it. Inevitable sadness and frustration to follow.
The Bull can’t do anything official with Anthony until next Monday, but they seem to be doing everything else, and I’m thinking, this might be the earliest a free agent ever has used the Bulls.