The past two days have set the NBA landscape upside down, and we’re still about a week away from free agency tipping off on July 1. With the news that Carmelo Anthony would opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks and become an unrestricted free agent, quite a few general managers started practicing their pitches in the mirror. With Tuesday’s news that LeBron James would be doing the same by foregoing the remaining two years on his contract with the Miami Heat, the NBA world has collectively started salivating at the possibilities 2014 free agency will bring.
Each superstar brings a different set of skills with them. LeBron James is the league’s best and most versatile player, the kind of guy you make room for on your roster no matter who you’ve got already. Melo isn’t quite at that level, but he’s still one of the NBA’s elite scorers and you can be guaranteed he’ll have quite a few suitors trying to convince him he can win his first championship by leaving New York.
Coming off a disheartening five-game defeat in the Finals, LeBron James has probably been doing a lot of soul-searching on his vacation with his family. Despite uniting three of the top five picks from the loaded 2003 NBA Draft, the Heat were only able to go 2-2 in the Finals. While winning two championships and making four consecutive Finals is nothing to turn your nose up at, that wasn’t the goal when King James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010:
Those are LeBron’s words in the video, not mine. And while the four-time MVP should have nothing to prove to the basketball community anymore, if he wants to make a real argument for himself in the “Greatest Of All Time” debate, he’ll need to win a few more championships. After watching Dwyane Wade‘s knees fail him, after watching Chris Bosh disappear in the Finals and after being dismantled by a superior team, LeBron may not be convinced he can further his legacy by staying in Miami.
As for Melo, he’s still looking for the right situation that can lead to his first title and end all the “overrated superstar” chatter. Despite never playing on a great team, last season was the first year Anthony missed the playoffs in his 11-year NBA career. Melo’s had a sort of ball hog reputation for awhile now, but the Knicks missing the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference was in no way his fault, as he became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002-03 to put up at least 27 points and eight rebounds per game in a season.
A handful of teams are obviously interested in signing either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to make a run at LeBron/settle for Melo. But what about the teams that can sign both? Here’s a look at four teams that can make a (sort of) realistic run at pairing the NBA’s two biggest names in free agency this summer.