Derrick Rose is an uncertain variable in the Bulls championship quest equation. Even though he is very much present of their books, the former MVP health status is so uncertain that rebuilding around him might result in a failure not because of D Rose lack of will or skills but because of the remaining possibility of other season ending injuries.
Carmelo should contemplate going to Chicago despite the cold and lack of glamour because last year he failed to reach the Eastern Conference final in part because of the Knicks defense. The Knicks had a solid defense last year but not a great one, yet they could not get key stops against a Pacers team with an undetonated Paul George. This year the Knicks have not had a consistent performing defense partially because of roster changes and injuries, partially because of bad coaching and partially because players do not playing hard enough. However, this season things have change in Indiana too. Paul George exploded into a superstar. Meanwhile, the Knicks defense went south, and does not show any prospect of coming back. The only coach alive in the Eastern Conference that could make his team compete with Indiana unofficial title of best defense in the NBA is Tom Thibodeau.
Tibs can get the Bulls there if he is given a good roster. Once the mastermind of the Celtics championship 2008 team, Tibs has proven his great coaching skills in a big market team like Chicago. Even under tremendous pressure and despite cataclysmic circumstances, back to back severe injuries of his best player Derrick Rose, Tibs has demonstrated his ability to get significant production from the rest of his players. As he famously says, “next man up!” These last two years all Tibs missed is a guy can score the basketball at will and in clutch time. And if Carmelo Anthony can bring anything to a team it’s scoring.
Carmelo, I believe, starts to understand that his hunger for winning a championship is going to require him going to make adjustments. In other words, he will need to defend more and shoot less than ever before.
Melo has already demonstrated this season that he can be a leader that can play hard every night. With Tyson Chandler out for the Knicks, the team best rebounder, at the beginning of the season, Carmelo showed that he can step up and help his team on the board and compensate the absence of another player while scoring 26 points per. When he collected 17 rebounds against Kevin Love’s Timberwolves, 12 against Millsap’s Hawks, 18 Paul George’s Pacers, and 15 LaMarcus Aldridge Trailblazers, he showed that he became the leader who can assume more responsibilities on the floor when need be.
If Melo goes in Chicago, his other Hall of Famer will be Joachim Noah. Noah is a tremendous competitor, defender, rebounder, teammate and leader. His stats do not speak dominance a la Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain or Shaquille O’Neal, yet they reflect very good rebounding and defense. On top of that he can provide 14 to 16 points per night. Carmelo will gain a locker room leader in Noah that is about winning and competing.
If they enjoy a healthy D Rose, then they will have a contending championship team. And in that context, it is only natural that we will see the rebirth of a once epic rivalry in the central division between the Bulls and the Pacers.
If Carmelo Anthony wants to win a championship, he needs not to follow the money but instead join championship situation. San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat have championship winning coaches and front offices, but they may not have the cap space to welcome him. Bulls have created the necessary space for a free agent like him. To win Carmelo Anthony needs a great Coach and a great defensive team. Tibs and the Bulls basketball identity fit the description.