NBA Picks: Eastern Conference Preview

Jordan Sharp

Monday, June 30, 2014 6:03 PM GMT

As we sit on the eve of free agency, the Eastern Conference is going to either be shaken up completely, or placed gently back down to earth. Either way, when the updated NBA Odds come out, there will be a lot of value within the Eastern Conference.

Lebron and Melo
Those two names are not only shaping what the East will look like for the next five years, but throughout the entire NBA too. Although I firmly believe that one or both of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony will re-sign with their current team, it does make the possibility of James leaving Miami in the cards.

After Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade opted out of their deals, the Heat currently have one player on their roster for next season, and it’s Norris Cole with a price tag of $2.1 million. Miami has financial freedom with a little over $60 million to spend, and if Wade and Bosh are willing to take significant paycuts, the Heat can not only reassemble Miami’s chances to win a title, they can probably be well atop the NBA Odds and betting picks once they come out.

We should know more in a week what both James and Anthony will do, but the more interesting story is the one shaping up in New York and seemingly Chicago for the services of Anthony.


To Melo or not to Melo
This is the question being debated eighty times per minute in Chicago right now, and right now as a Bulls fan, I don’t think giving Anthony four years and $95 million is such a smart move. Anthony is on the wrong side of 30, and the Bulls would basically have to gut their whole team outside of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to get him signed for that much. Unless Carmelo is willing to take a significant pay cut of about 15-20% more than the $30 million he would lose not staying with the Knicks, I don’t think the Bulls should give in to either Carmelo or Phil Jackson for that matter.

Chicago has a lot going for them this offseason and in the near future, and they have some cap space to work with as well. Chicago would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer, but even if they don’t, the Bulls are bringing in a solid piece in Doug McDermott, and even more importantly, they can bring over Spanish forward Nikola Mirotic, who happens to be a 2-time Euroleague MVP.

Some more creative financial maneuvering and they could also bring in another impact free agent after waiving Boozer. Either way it goes, I’m not opposed to the Bulls giving up pieces to bring in Melo, but it will have to be for a much smaller price than what Jackson and the Knicks will be demanding. All of this nonsense about Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Mirotic and future first rounders for just Carmelo are not only nuts, but they are ignorant and wreckless. Why would you bet the farm on a guy whose prime may already be starting to fade fast?

Chicago is much better served playing this year out, and saving their money for next season’s much better (and younger) crop of free agents. I know some think that this may be the last time the Bulls have a chance to lure big name free agents to Chicago, especially if Rose’s knee issues continue. Noah is set to be 30 and he is another guy whose prime may be fading. In the end though, I’m not sure who would be crazier, Gar Forman and John Paxton for betting big money and assets on Carmelo late in his prime, or Carmelo himself if he turns down what should be about $50 million more in a contract to stay in New York.