The Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes is already underway, and it has quickly taken a new turn.
The NBA has informed all 30 clubs that there is a projected $5 million rise in salary cap space for the 2014-15 season, according to ESPN. That would allow the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets a little more financial flexibility for the teams’ pursuit of free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony.
Per the report, the increase in the salary cap stems from the league’s increased revenues. As a result, the cap will move from $58.6 million to $63.2 million.
Chicago and Houston are oft-mentioned as two of the five most likely suitors for Anthony, with the Bulls considered by some to be the front-runners.
Anthony has stated he wants to play for a contender right away, and the Bulls are currently a playoff squad even without their superstar point guard Derrick Rose. Anthony also has a strong relationship with Joakim Noah and will play for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau with Team USA.
Even before the news that there would be a rise in the salary cap, the Bulls were optimistic in their chances of luring Anthony to the Windy City, according to the report. The team believed its chances went up when the New York Knicks failed to make the playoffs, which was the first time Anthony would not be playing in the postseason in his 11-year career.
More salary cap space, in addition to a potential use of the amnesty tag on veteran forward Carlos Boozer, gives the Bulls more financial flexibility to make a competitive contract offer to Anthony.
The Rockets have previously made big-time moves to acquire James Harden and Dwight Howard, and combining those two with Anthony would give Houston arguably a better “big three” than that of the Miami Heat. General Manager Daryl Morey has two trading pieces in the form of center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin, and it is assumed he could use them in a sign-and-trade for Anthony.
According to the report, the Rockets have “quietly expressed confidence” for months in regards to their chances of signing Anthony. As with Chicago, more cap space gives Houston a better opportunity to make Anthony a more lucrative offer.