The Hawks are thinking about launching a run at Carmelo Anthony, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who deem Atlanta a “sleeper” team in the race for the star forward. A run at ‘Melo reminiscent of last year’s darkhorse pitch to Dwight Howard is one of many options that Hawks GM Danny Ferry is considering, though it would require that the team clear a significant amount of cap space.
Atlanta and the Heat are on the fringes of an Anthony sweepstakes that more prominently features the Rockets, Mavs and Lakers, as well as the Bulls, who appear to have taken the lead, as Shelburne and Stein write. The Knicks are in the running, too, as they bid to keep Anthony from leaving New York.
The Knicks can re-sign him using Bird rights, but the Lakers have the most cap flexibility among the teams in the race. Still, Anthony wants the Lakers to upgrade their roster before he would consider them, according to Shelburne and Stein. That’s why rumors involving No. 7 pick and Steve Nash have cropped up, as Lakers look to part with them in search of improvements, as the ESPN scribes explain. Sources tell Chris Broussard of ESPN.com that ‘Melo met recently with Kobe Bryant in Europe, and while Bryant denies that any meeting took place, he said a meeting with Anthony is indeed on his agenda (Twitter link).
Ferry would have to make a few trades of his own just to open up room for a competitive contract offer. The Hawks have slightly more than $47MM in commitments to eight players next season, not counting their first-round pick at No. 15 overall. If the Hawks renounced all of their free agents, roster charges would bring Atlanta’s cap hits to about $49MM, leaving only about $14.2MM under the $63.2MM projected salary cap to bid for Anthony, who can make a starting salary of nearly $22.5MM.