Update (2/1/19 1:45 PM ET): The Bulls have waived Carmelo Anthony, per Woj. We choose to believe that the Bulls brass were so convinced by this article that Melo could fit their team that they immediately had to waive him just to be safe. Please enjoy all the same.
Anthony started the 2018-19 season with the Houston Rockets, hoping to fill the gap at forward left by Trevor Ariza‘s and Luc Mbah a Moute‘s departures. His arrival also reunited him with Mike D’Antoni, who coached Melo when he was on the New York Knicks from Feb. 2011 through March 2012.
Unfortunately, it only took 10 games for the Rockets organization to determine the arrangement wasn’t going to work out. Anthony and the team agreed to part ways. He would remain on their inactive list until they figured out how to dispose of him.
Houston eventually found a taker in Chicago. On Jan. 22, the Rockets sent Melo, the draft rights to Jon Diebler, and cash to the Bulls for the draft rights to Tadija Dragicevic. However, despite the new destination, he has remained on the inactive list. Like Houston, the Bulls are seeking out possible trade destinations ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline. If nothing comes to fruition, they will buy him out.
While that is the reality of the situation, there is a case to be made for Carmelo Anthony to stay in Chicago and play out the remainder of the season. His eventual buyout will be done because he is seeking to be a role player on a contending team. However, his skillset does not fit in with any of the league’s top teams.
He was an awkward fit with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year and wasn’t a fit at all in Houston this year. The only types of teams that could truly use his services are ones that are lower in the standings, do not emphasize the 3-point shot, and are looking for a splashy name to raise ticket sales. The Bulls fully fit that description.
Carmelo hasn’t found a team that meshes well with his offensive style since being traded from the New York Knicks in the summer of 2017. However, he already has one in the Windy City. Anthony has historically been a ball-dominant player, be it in the pick-and-roll, posting up, or on isolation plays. That type of play fits perfectly under Jim Boylen.
Offensively, Boylen likes to play through the post and prefers his players to create opportunities for themselves when they get the ball. While he isn’t always the best at these things, they are the exact things that Anthony likes to do on the court.
According to BBall Index, he came away with 7.8 Created Points Over Expectation on Pick & Roll-Ball Handler plays in 2017-18. Synergy shows that he finished 2016-17 in the 63rd percentile on post-up plays and the 73rd percentile on isolation plays among players with at least 40 possessions in both categories.
Chicago is also one of the few places in the league that doesn’t emphasize 3-point shooting. Boylen’s Bulls average the fewest 3’s per game in the league (24.4). While Carmelo’s long-range 2’s didn’t fit with Houston’s offense, they will be right at home on the Westside.
However, Anthony’s fit on offense is negated by his issues on defense. BBall Index finds that he gave up 1.2 Defensive Points Over Expectation with the 2018 Thunder. The most glaring issues came in the pick & roll game. He gave up 11.6 DPOE on Pick & Roll – Roll Man plays and 5.7 on Pick & Roll – Ball Handler plays.
Those defensive issues likely give GM’s for contending teams pause. They have to ask themselves if their other players are good enough to hide Anthony on defense? He won’t have to worry about those questions on the Bulls. The team is already struggling in that department. Since Jan. 1, the Bulls have a 115.0 defensive rating, third-worst in the NBA.
Based off of the current Bulls rotation, Anthony’s presence would cause a logjam at the power forward position. He and Jabari Parker are the same size, and Jim Boylen prefers to play Jabari at the 4. However, things could open up if he relented and made the small forward position an Anthony-Parker battery. While that would cause issues defensively, it would help maintain the minutes for Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, and Robin Lopez.
Carmelo Anthony sits inactive on the Chicago Bulls roster, waiting for his next opportunity to compete in the NBA. He wants to play on a playoff team, but his skillset doesn’t mesh with any of the top team’s styles of play. That was evident when he played in Oklahoma City and Houston.
Teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs are playoff teams that work best with his style. However, there is no guarantee that those teams are interested in his services. If Carmelo Anthony wants to keep playing in the NBA, few teams fit him better than the Chicago Bulls.