Report: ‘Melo “Torn” Between Knicks, Bulls & Lakers

Carmelo Anthony has narrowed his list of possible teams down to three: the Bulls, Lakers and the Knicks. In Frank Isola’s most recent piece for the New York Daily News, a friend of Anthony’s says he’s “torn” over the choice between the three teams with each offering their own advantages and shortcomings.

Anthony met with Knicks president Phil Jackson and Knicks officials on Thursday and Friday, who Isola reports offered him a maximum contract of five years and $129 million — the most any team can pay him. But, Anthony is also said to be debating Chicago and Los Angeles, even though only the Lakers can offer him a maximum contract, though it would only be for four years and $96 million.

Here’s Isola:

Carmelo Anthony is “torn” over where to spend the prime years of his career, according to a friend of the Knicks All Star forward.

Anthony, 30, is still debating his next move with the Knicks, Lakers and the Bulls as his top three choices, the source claims. Chicago is still in the running despite the fact that the Bulls, barring a sign-and-trade, cannot come close to matching the max deals the Knicks and Lakers offered Anthony last week. However, the Bulls do allow Anthony to stay in the Eastern Conference, play in the large market and join a contending team.

Knicks president Phil Jackson, despite hints to the contrary, offered Anthony a max deal of five years, $129 million. The best the Bulls can do is $75 million over four years. If it was just about taking the most money, Anthony already would have announced his intentions to rejoin the Knicks. But Anthony is intrigued by the Bulls as well as the Lakers, who have the ability to give Anthony a max deal ($96 million) over four years. Anthony also lives in Los Angeles during the off-season and is friends with Kobe Bryant. It is believed that if Anthony were to sign with the Lakers, Pau Gasol would likely re-sign with the purple and gold.

About that max offer Jackson supposedly extended to Anthony on Friday, the Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Herring has a different view of ‘Melo and Phil’s meeting. A source tells Herring Anthony felt New York’s max offer was hazy, and he got mixed signals when he spoke to the team on Thursday — the day before Jackson, according to Isola, offered him the five-year max:

According to a person familiar with the situation, Anthony felt as if he got mixed signals from the New York Knicks during his meeting with the team on Thursday. While Anthony and his camp were told that he could have a maximum contract if he wanted it, a source said, team president Phil Jackson continued to preach the virtues of taking less than the maximum—a message that left Anthony questioning whether the max offer was sincere.

This could explain why the Lakers became serious contenders for ‘Melo after the meeting, Herring postulates. Phil, as is his custom, has been using Carmelo Anthony’s own comments in an attempt to placate his need for a better surrounding cast in New York. The only way for Anthony to do that is to take less than the max, so it frees Phil to go after better players.

Here’s why ‘Melo is torn:

The Bulls can’t offer him the max, but they do have more pieces to surround Anthony with his best chance to win a title now, something he’s said is a primary factor during his free agency wanderings around the country over the last week. Chicago has reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah; runner-up to Sixth Man of the Year, Taj Gibson — if they don’t have to unload him to land ‘Melo; a healthy — fingers crossed — former MVP in Derrick Rose and a coach and system with Tom Thibodeau that perfectly conjoins with Anthony’s score-first mentality. Except, Chicago offers the least money in what could be Anthony’s last big payday before he gets too old to command that sort of money.

The Knicks can offer the most money. That’s about all they offer except a tentative plan hatched last week to make a run at Pau Gasol, after moving Tyson Chandler to Dallas. Plus, and this is totally speculative, but Phil’s Triangle Offense might make better use of ‘Melo’s mid-range game, though he’d have to buy in to a system that rewards more offensive movement than the iso-heavy Anthony might be prepared to undertake.

The Lakers, possibly after New York’s reported mixed signals about the max offer, provide a good locale — Anthony’s wife, La La lives and works in Los Angeles and they have a summer home there — plus a full max contract they’ve already offered him. That’s forgetting to mention a motivated Kobe Bryant coming back after a season where he only appeared in six games. They also might re-sign Gasol, but right now Pau is still a free agent. Still, neither the Lakers nor the Knicks offer the sort of surrounding talent Chicago has, but the Bulls can’t offer the money LA and New York can come up with.

That’s a lot of think about, so it’s no wonder Anthony is torn. If he wants to win, he should go to Chicago. If he wants the most money, he should choose New York. If he wants what might be the best bet for his pocketbook and family, plus a chance to play with a player like Kobe, the Lakers are the team.

We’re glad we don’t have to make that decision because he’s going to get raked across the coals no matter where he elects to sign.

(New York Daily News; Wall Street Journal)

Which team offers the best chance at ‘Melo?

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