Hearing the Lakers made a MAJOR impact on Melo this week - it's now a legit 3-way battle between LA/Chi/NYK to land him. Crazy NBA weekend.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) July 5, 2014
The addition of the Lakers into the race does not change the fact that the Bulls are the front runner in terms of basketball reasons. They have a better core than New York or Los Angeles, and, with Melo, would be far and away favorites to win the East if point guard Derrick Rose stays healthy. By the way, you'll hear, "if Rose stays healthy" about 1,000 times before the season even starts.
New York has the slight advantage over Los Angeles and a huge advantage over Chicago in almost everything outside of playing basketball.. Melo is already established in the Big Apple, and who needs to contend for a championship when you can make more money, keep your family happy in New York, spend every weekend partying with rapper Jay-Z, and become a New York icon along the lines of Patrick Ewing and Bernard King? Fans with the "rings or bust" mentality would criticize him, but what some people do not realize is that, like anyone else regarding their profession, basketball players do not only care about basketball.
It seems odd that Melo would leave New York for a team in LA that looks just as bleak at the moment. Kobe Bryant does not come off the books until 2016, and based on how Kobe looked while healthy last year, the Lakers will not be able to build a serious contender around Melo until Kobe's giant contract is over, by which time Melo will be 32. Bulls can contend with Melo right away ("if Rose stays healthy"). Knicks will have lots of flexibility after next season, and he would only have to wait until he is 31 to possibly contend in New York.
Los Angeles also has nobody in their front office as prestigious as Phil Jackson, who was hired by the Knicks this past spring as President of Basketball Operations. We're actually not sure if he'll be good at his job, but Phil Jackson!
Others expressed their disbelief regarding Simmons' tweet as well, including Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall.
@BillSimmons watchu talkin bout Willis
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) July 5, 2014
However, ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne corroborated Simmons' initial tweet that Melo could very possibly choose Los Angeles.
@KButter5 he's knows what he's talking about
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 5, 2014
Well, then. There you have it. Melo is seriously considering Los Angeles. If choosing New York means choosing loyalty and glamour, and choosing Chicago means choosing contending for a championship, then I'm not sure what choosing LA means, other than choosing warm weather and the mystique that comes from wearing a purple and gold jersey.
But perhaps these two reasons are very good ones; it is because of these two reasons that the Lakers are historically the most desirable free agent destination. They are less appealing lately, due to lack of talent and the passing of late owner Jerry Buss, but it is not as if the Lakers mystique has evaporated altogether. If Melo signs with the Lakers, he's buying into the idea that they'll definitely be able to surround him with a good team once Kobe's contract expires.
Based on the Knicks' history of mediocrity, and the Lakers' rich history of success, it seems like a better bet to go with the Lakers if he ever wants a championship. He wouldn't be remembered in the same breath as King and Ewing, but being associated with Laker greats James Worthy and Elgin Baylor isn't bad either.
As far as off-court stuff, Los Angeles is presumably a better destination than Chicago for Melo and his family. The fact that the Bulls play in Chicago as opposed to New York or LA seems to be the main reason Melo hasn't already signed there. Chicago is awesome, but it's colder than Los Angeles, and less elegant than either city. I doubt his wife, actress La La Anthony, would prefer living in Chicago over New York or Los Angeles.
For Melo, Los Angeles is a middle ground. He would probably have a better shot at winning a championship in Los Angeles than in New York, could still please his family, and doesn't have to completely give up hanging out with oodles of other famous people in a glamorous environment.
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