Carmelo Anthony has notified the New York Knicks of his decision to opt out of his contract. Now the interesting part: which team will Anthony play for come the 2014-2015 NBA season? The basketball odds are leaning heavily toward the Chicago Bulls; they’re priced at 1/2 on the NBA player props market. Here’s how the rest of the contenders lined up as we went to press:
New York Knicks 4/1
Miami Heat 5/1
Houston Rockets 15/2
Los Angeles Lakers 15/1
Dallas Mavericks 20/1
Atlanta Hawks 20/1
All these teams were mentioned in reports following Anthony’s decision to forgo the last year of his contract with the Knicks. That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t return to the Big Apple. New York can sign the seven-time All-Star to a max deal for $129 million over five years, and everyone else can only offer $96 million over four years. This makes the Knicks a tasty choice at 4/1.
At the same time, the basketball lines on the Bulls are probably too optimistic. They were also supposed to be the favorites to land LeBron James and/or Chris Bosh when they were free agents in 2010, but that obviously didn’t happen. Chicago fans are likely to overbet the Bulls in this situation and bleed whatever value is left from the NBA betting odds.
If Anthony (24.4 PER) does indeed leave New York, his destination at least partly hinges on which team can offer the best sign-and-trade package in return. Anthony would have the final say in any trade scenario, but the Knicks might not be interested in what Chicago has to offer – Carlos Boozer (14.4 PER) and Mike Dunleavy (12.6 PER) are the veterans floating in the press, along with draft picks and assorted other pieces. That wouldn’t get the Knicks any closer to beating the NBA lines in the short run.
Miami might not be your best NBA bet, either – according to Pat Riley, who’s downplaying the Anthony rumors that (very curiously) surfaced during the finals. And Dirk Nowitzki has also labelled Dallas’ chances as “not really” viable, pointing instead at the Bulls and the Rockets as landing spots. Houston could be the sharp basketball pick here; a package sending Jeremy Lin (14.3 PER) back to New York along with Omer Asik (14.0 PER) would help the Knicks at positions of need, and it would give the Rockets enough cap room to put Anthony in a highly competitive lineup with Dwight Howard (21.3 PER) and James Harden (23.5 PER). Now that’s a Big Three.