Dec 10, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 109-94.Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets Clear Frontrunnners For Carmelo Anthony

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Adrian Wojnarowski (Yahoo Sports) mentions the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets as frontrunners for the services of Carmelo Anthony.

Wojnarowski says that the Rockets and Bulls are working on trade scenarios to make the necessary cap room for Anthony, and he’s likely to leave New York for one of these two teams for a chance to win now.

What’s the difference between the Bulls and the Rockets?

For Chicago to make its bid for Anthony, it will need to amnesty the contract of Carlos Boozer and unload forward Taj Gibson and at least one more player. The Bulls could enjoy an easier path to the NBA Finals than Houston, which competes in the much stronger Western Conference. Anthony has an affinity for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, but ultimately Anthony must also weigh in his decision the future health of guard Derrick Rose.

But the Rockets do have two stars on their team, and they are both young and healthy. Also, the Rockets’ expiring contracts of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik could appeal to the Knicks more than they would to other teams

Houston has Dwight Howard and James Harden prepared to recruit Anthony as the third star in a championship chase. The Rockets need to shed the contracts of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to clear most of the space to sign Anthony to a max contract. Because those players are moving into the expiring year of their contracts, they could potentially appeal to New York in sign-and-trade scenarios that would deliver Anthony his full max contract of four years, $90 million-plus.

If the Knicks don’t have interest in Lin, the Rockets would have to move him elsewhere, and may have to include a pick of their own just to shed his contract. Asik? Well, Wojnarowski says the Knicks could have long term interest in the center.

In trade talks, New York has told teams it doesn’t want to take on contracts beyond the summer of 2015, although Asik, a center, could ultimately be a player the Knicks would want to sign long-term. There’s a market for Asik to be traded into salary-cap space elsewhere for draft considerations, but Houston may have to package a draft pick to move Lin.

How would Anthony signing affect the Rockets’ roster? Wojnarowski says they could keep their core if Anthony accept a bit less than the max, thus giving the Rockets a better team and better chance at competing for a championship.

The Rockets have the flexibility to sell Anthony on a full-max contract in the range of $22 million-$23 million per year, or can offer him the chance to keep teammates like Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones on the roster by accepting less money on the deal. Nevertheless, most scenarios that would hold the Rockets’ nucleus together would still find Anthony with a starting annually salary in the range of $19 million, league sources said.

Of course the Rockets would love if Anthony takes less than the max he can demand. The Rockets will have to pay Chandler Parsons money, one way or another, and Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley will eventually command more money once their contracts expire.

Anthony would bring the Rockets a big three, a big three GM Daryl Morey has been looking to acquire for quite some time.

Many people disliked the Rockets pursuit of Dwight Howard, believing he would lead to the downfall of the Rockets. Those same people believe Anthony will do the same. Sorry, guys. Adding Anthony to this team would only improve the Rockets’ chances at a ring, and that’s all you need to care about. If you’re still skeptical, check out this article debunking all the myths regarding Carmelo and the Rockets.

Anthony has yet to officially become a free agent. That decision will come by June 23rd.

Stick with House Of Houston for everything on the Rockets draft, offseason, and upcoming season.

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