At age 37, Carmelo Anthony finally has joined a superteam. Anthony joins Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis to make a star-studded lineup in Los Angeles. According to a recent public appearance, Anthony said that LeBron approached Anthony and said the time was now for the two to team up.
Anthony has a Hall of Famer career that includes some impressive awards from his time in Denver and New York. After joining the Thunder, it’s been a bumpy road that has stretched from OKC, Houston, Atlanta, and Portland. Now, he has an opportunity to win a championship with his friend, LeBron, of over 20 years.
If Anthony doesn’t win a title, he will likely solidify his career as a player like Charles Barkley or Steve Nash, Hall of Fame players with no titles. However, it didn’t have to be this long for Anthony to finally have a chance to dance in the lights. He could have joined a superteam, or two, but made a different choice.
No To Chicago And Yes To New York
Back in 2014, Anthony was one season removed from an NBA scoring title and All-NBA appearance. He was seen as one of the biggest free agents on the market. At the time, the Chicago Bulls were a few years removed from Derrick Rose’s tragic injuries. The team was competing despite a less talented roster. All that was missing was that true superstar.
At the time, the team had a healthy D-Rose. Pau Gasol joined the team in free agency, but that was after Anthony declined, while Joakim Noah was a year off from winning Defensive Player of the Year. Jimmy Butler was beginning to enter his All-Star years. With Anthony on the team, there was a chance the Bulls could finally take down LeBron James.
Even if Gasol didn’t join the Bulls, a big three of Rose, Noah, and Anthony might have been enough to take down LeBron in his first season with the Cavaliers. Rose had a few productive years left in his career. Noah was one of the best defensive players. The team needed a true offensive force, which is exactly where Anthony would have come in.
When Tom Thibodeau was coaching the Bulls, Anthony was considering joining the team. It was a 50-50 split between returning to the Knicks and the Bulls. According to multiple reports, Anthony changed his mind back and forth numerous times. While we don’t know the real reason he chose New York, there is enough evidence to speculate that he received more money in New York, or that playing for the gritty Thibodeau might have sealed the deal.
From 2014-2016, Anthony was an All-Star selection averaging around 24.0 points per game and shot around 35% from the three-point range. Meanwhile, the Bulls lost to the Cavaliers in the 2015 playoffs in the second round and Thibodeau was released. Maybe, if Anthony joined the Bulls, he would have played in the NBA Finals, and Thibs would have stayed longer.
A Better Laker Big Three Than Today
The focus was on the Bulls and Knicks for Anthony during that summer of 2014. It turns out that there was something even bigger in the works that was not as public as the debate between New York and Chicago. If you think that a combination of LeBron, Westbrook, and Davis is big, imagine having LeBron, Anthony, and Kobe Bryant.
It turns out that there were real conversations between the three players, agents, and the Lakers franchise. Bryant was entering the final years of his career and knew that he couldn’t win another title with the cast around him. Bryant wanted to team up with both LeBron and Anthony, who were both free agents.
Anthony was on board with joining the Lakers if, and only if, LeBron came to Los Angeles too. LeBron was reportedly considering joining, but would only do it if he played on a max contract. That wasn’t going to be easy because Bryant had two years and $48 million left on his deal. Due to that contract, the team didn’t have enough salary-cap space to sign LeBron to a max deal and have enough money to sign Anthony.
Bryant was willing to take less money off his deal, but even by taking a 50% cut, the team didn’t have enough money. This would have been incredible for the Lakers. With Anthony and LeBron sharing touches with Bryant, this team would have been a powerful offense. Instead, LeBron returned to Cleveland and Anthony stayed in New York. Only LeBron has won a title (2016 and 2020) out of three since 2014.
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