Bulls: One controversial free agent idea that may actually work

Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

With free agency set to officially begin at 6 pm ET tomorrow evening, the NBA rumor mill has reached top speed as we impatiently wait to see how it all plays out. In order to get an edge on the competition, the Chicago Bulls will have to get creative tomorrow to surpass the other Eastern Conference contenders.

But how creative are we really willing to get? One proposal that received a lot of traction and debate online was the potential signing of the Carmelo Anthony to fill out the Bulls’ bench on a veteran’s minimum. The future Hall of Famer could bring a lot to Chicago, but whether or not the good would outweigh his baggage remains to be seen.

I first came across this idea when SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell shared it on Twitter.

O’Donnell elaborates on his thought process, “I was thinking the Bulls could use a Korver type as a bargain free agent. Going through the list of names … who is a better shooter than Melo that will be reasonable for a cheap deal?” For a Bulls team that ranked last in the NBA in 3-point rate, it’s at least a sound train of thought to want to add more shooting to the bench this summer.

A lot of time has passed since the summer of 2014, but is Carmelo Anthony still as viable of a free agent option for the Chicago Bulls as he was then?

My first reaction upon reading this was very similar to yours, I imagine. Something along the lines of, “What, Carmelo? He’s all washed up!” sounds about right. But is he really all washed up? Is writing off Carmelo due to his name alone truly fair?

That harsh reaction would be based on outdated notions of Carmelo’s game, which has had to undergo significant growth in recent years. The same Anthony who once infamously scoffed at the idea of coming off the bench has completely molded his game to become a very solid role player in today‘s NBA.

Since returning from his exodus from the league back in 2019, Anthony has submitted three satisfactory seasons with the Trail Blazers and Lakers. The former NBA scoring champion has averaged 14 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a vital bench piece during that span. Anthony has also made 38.9% of his 3-point attempts during those three years, a marked improvement from the 34.7% he shot over the course of his career before coming to Portland.

This is quite an impressive showing for someone of Carmelo’s age. Recently having turned 38 years old, the clock is ticking for Anthony to make the most of his remaining time in the league. Fortunately, Carmelo has an “old man’s game” similar to Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, one that has aged gracefully and significantly extended his playing days. For that reason, Anthony may be of interest to a Chicago Bulls team that’s currently lacking power forward depth.

There should be mutual interest here from Carmelo, the same Carmelo who was famously recruited by Chicago back in 2014. The Bulls didn’t have enough cap space to sign him then, but that won’t be an issue now.

If Chicago truly is intent on adding a rim protector with their MLE in free agency, then sliding an offensive floor-spacing presence alongside the new rim protector makes sense when it comes to creating a cohesive bench unit. Anthony could seamlessly integrate with several of the Bulls’ top free agent targets.

As he reaches the twilight of his career, he could also serve as an extremely valuable mentor to Patrick Williams. Critics have harped on Pat’s lack of confidence and aggressiveness for years, but is there a more overly confident player in the NBA than Carmelo Anthony? Hopefully, he’d be able to instill a little of that mentality in Williams. Or at the very least, he could expand Pat’s already impressive mid-range game.

If Anthony were interested in coming to Chicago, it’s hard not to deny it feels like a great fit on paper. He’d get the chance to play a valuable role, mentor the next generation, and join fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalist DeRozan for one more big playoff push.

Some may say this signing will have come 8 years too late, but instead, I’ll side with O’Donnell on this one and join team “better late than never”.

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