As Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James continue put off their respective free agency decisions, recent rumblings allude to ‘Melo possibly waiting to see if there’s any way he can join James in Miami or Los Angeles.
As Stephen A. Smith bombastically announced on “First Take” a couple months ago, James and Anthony are good friends off the court, and Smith believed there was a 95 percent chance they joined forces if both opted out this summer. Since then, they’ve both opted out of their respective deals, though it’s become clear the Heat can’t afford to keep their Big 3 while also adding Anthony.
Then again, things have changed dramatically during the first eight days of the July moratorium, signaling the start of the NBA’s whirlwind free agency period.
The Heat signed Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts yesterday in an attempt to convince James, Chris Bosh and — to a lesser extent — Dwyane Wade they should stay together as the Heat’s core three for another few years.
Meanwhile, Daryl Morey and the Rockets became “heavily engaged” in discussions with Chris Bosh, and have now offered Bosh a tough-to-turn-down 4-year, $88 million max deal, something he’s unlikely to see if he stays with the Heat. James wants a max deal, and there’s no way the Heat could do a max deal for ‘Bron and also for Bosh, while trying to re-sign Dwayne Wade — no matter how far Wade’s skills have declined through the years.
On the other side of the ‘Melo-’Bron coin, Anthony is currently “torn” between the Lakers, Bulls and Knicks after touring the country to talk with teams during the first free agency wooing process of his career.
Except Marc Stein of ESPN relays the rumor ‘Melo isn’t deferring his decision because he’s undecided, he’s just waiting to see if Bosh flees the Heat for Houston, so he can join the juggernaut that’s won the Eastern Conference the last four years:
Popular question raised by last five teams I've talked to: Is Melo holding out in hopes Bosh goes to Houston so he can join LeBron in Miami?
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2014
Marc Berman of the New York Post pours more fuel on the speculative fire after Monday came and went, and with it, New York’s imagined deadline to hear an answer from Anthony:
The Knicks expected Carmelo Anthony’s decision by Monday, but heard only crickets. A growing belief within the organization is Anthony is waiting to make sure there is no possible way of hooking up with LeBron James in Miami or Los Angeles.
While Anthony monitors the South Beach drama, James is expected to meet with Heat president Pat Riley — as soon as Tuesday. The Post has reported the Big 4 scenario was virtually impossible, but if power forward Chris Bosh is wowed by the money in Texas, either Dallas or Houston, that could open a spot for a new Big 3 of James, Anthony and Dwyane Wade splitting the remaining cap space.
However, that scenario became trickier with Miami agreeing to terms with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger on Monday, though not impossible. If Wade takes a significant paycut, Riley can be creative in fitting James and his buddy Anthony under the salary cap.
Berman goes on to point out the benefits of ‘Melo signing with Lakers: the Bulls would need to work a sign-and-trade with the Knicks if they were to have any chance of netting him a max deal (even if they failed to sign European import Nikola Mirotic and shed Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s contract); the Lakers can offer him the max without a sign-and-trade.
This is all conjecture at this point. Bosh has been pretty adamant during the offseason and the regular season, he’d like to return to Miami if James does as well. Still, Anthony might want to keep his options open in case Bosh does flee the Heat for a Houston offer that would be tough for any player to turn down.
Is ‘Melo waiting to see what Bosh and LeBron do with the Heat?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.