Carmelo Anthony has been one of the top players in the league since he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2003. After playing his first eight years with the Nuggets, Melo expressed the desire to be traded to the New York Knicks, which at the time looked to be a prime destination to contend in the East. However, after failing to make the playoffs for the first time in his career in 2014, Melo made the announcement that he would exercise his right to opt-out of his contract during this offseason. Averaging 24.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, it’s expected that there will be a hot race for Carmelo this offseason. Here are some of the top teams that are looking to lure Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
The Chicago Bulls have slowly but surely been setting up a plan to get Carmelo whenever the time came that he was a free agent. This past season they traded away Luol Deng, which opened up salary options and they’d be able to give Melo a max deal. If Melo was to head to Chicago, he would team up with a (hopefully) healthy Derrick Rose and the 2014 NBA Defensive Player Of The Year in Joakim Noah. After the Miami Heat showed that they are aging and having issues with longevity, a trio of Melo, Rose and Noah could skyrocket Chicago to the top of the East and become a perennial power. The Bulls currently sit at 15/1 odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship, but adding Melo to the mix would certainly improve those odds.
Even though Melo opted-out of his contract with the New York Knicks, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to retain him. The Knicks have two huge details working in the favor. First, Melo made it clear for a long time that he wanted to play in New York and he has family ties in the area. But what might be even more important than that is Melo would have to take a $50 million pay cut to play anywhere else. That’s right, count it again. The Knicks can offer $50 million to Melo, which would be huge for anyone to turn down. The problem is that the entire NBA universe knows that the Knicks are in a rebuilding period, and Melo doesn’t want to wait any longer to win a championship ring. The Knicks find themselves at 50/1 odds for next season, but that number could take a serious hit if Carmelo decides to leave town.
The Houston Rockets made the biggest splash last season when they signed Dwight Howard and paired him with James Harden, who they had gotten earlier with a trade from Oklahoma City. Houston’s GM, Daryl Morey, seems to have a knack for enticing big name players to come and play for the Rockets and the fact that the Rockets already have two superstars could be enough to bring in Melo as well. Granted, Houston is in a tougher Western Conference, but that doesn’t mean they are out of the mix. Right now, Houston is sitting at 20/1 odds to win it all in 2015.
Houston’s in-state rival Dallas Mavericks may also be a major player in the mix for Melo. The Mavs had a huge run just three seasons ago and were able to capture their first NBA Championship. However, they eased off a bit and lost some key players, which has led to Dirk Nowitzki to carry a heavier load. Mark Cuban isn’t afraid to spend money if it means his team is going to get better, which they certainly would with Melo paired up with Dirk. The Mavs are also apparently interested in Marcin Gortat, which would give Carmelo a big man inside to take some pressure off of his perimeter game. The Mavericks find themselves at the middle of the pack with 50/1 odds, but that’s without having other key players to surround Dirk. Add a few free agents to the mix and all of that would certainly change.
Melo has made it no surprise that he loves the limelight and playing on one of the biggest stages in the world at Madison Square Garden. What is almost on that level? Some would argue it’s the Staples Center. That’s why the Los Angeles Lakers could be in the mix for the Melo-sweepstakes as well. Granted, we’ve seen what happens when other superstars pair up with Kobe Bryant, so one of these two players would have to take a backseat to the other. But with Kobe sitting on five championship rings, he may be willing to put things aside so that he can surpass Michael Jordan’s six. The Lakers had a horrible 2014 campaign, and they currently are at 50/1 odds to win the NBA Championship in 2015, but they could possibly have a better odds at landing Melo, which would change the outlook of their team.
Pat Riley somehow found a way to put together the trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade together four years ago, so there is no telling what he has up his sleeve. Because of this, the Miami Heat find themselves in contention for Carmelo Anthony as well. The Heat are already favored at 5/2 odds to win the NBA Championship in 2015, but that was the same situation this past year before they were beat by the Spurs. The Heat may need to do something huge like pulling in Melo, or else LeBron may find himself disinterested in Miami’s future.
Wherever Carmelo Anthony goes, he’ll be sure to shake up the landscape of the NBA. And while these teams may be the most likely to land him, he could shock us all with something more exciting. Whether Melo moves or stays put, be sure to check back with sportspicks.com for handicapper insight into his decision and how it impacts the rest of the league.