New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) drives past Orlando Magic's Brandon Bass (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Updated: July 29, 2014 6:13AM
So what are you selling, boys?
That’s the only question free agent Carmelo Anthony will need to ask when he meets with Bulls brass next week.
After the baby steps Thursday night to reshape the roster by trading up for Creighton forward Doug McDermott, general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau answered that question with such catch phrases as “the great city of Chicago’’ and “the culture.’’
Hopefully, they have more up their sleeves than that.
Here’s a reality check: Only two franchises can pull free agents on the idea of culture and history, and the Bulls aren’t one of them. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are legitimate NBA royalty; everyone else is just a passing fad.
The fact that Michael Jordan played here? Stop. That Jordan statue in front of the United Center only attracts pigeons and tourists — in that order.
If the idea of playing in Jordan’s shadow was so attractive, free agents would be flocking to Charlotte. They aren’t.
And they aren’t hypnotized by No. 23 having won six trophies here, either.
So, again, what are you selling to Anthony?
“What we’re always going to sell is obviously Chicago, the great city of Chicago, our fan base, the culture that’s been created here, the success we’ve had up to this point, and the feeling we have is that we can continue to improve and continue to have great success moving forward,’’ Forman said. “So we feel we’ve got a lot to sell, but, again, it’s going to be a really fluid situation, and we’ve mapped out a number of different ways this can go. Some of it we control, some of it we don’t.
“We’ll certainly try to be as aggressive as we can to try to improve the team.’’
Then make it simple.
Selling point No. 1 is Thibodeau. Ask Kevin Garnett. Ask Paul Pierce. Ask Joakim Noah. Any NBA player with any sort of beating in his chest still wants to be coached and pushed to the max.
That’s what Thibodeau offers Anthony. He will make him the best basketball player he can be.
Selling point No. 2 is Noah.
He was the best player on the Bulls’ roster last season. On a team competing for the title, however, Noah should be that No. 3 guy, the one who does all the dirty work that allows superstars to be superstars.
If Forman and Co. are smart, they don’t even bring up Derrick Rose to Anthony, other than the usual “Derrick’s great’’ medical update.
Rose is not a selling point anymore. Even Thibodeau seemed to realize that.
“The thing that is going to make it attractive is all the players that are along with Derrick,’’ Thibodeau said.
“We have a good team, a great city, great organization, and we have a team that has depth. . . . But the real value is in our team. When you look at Joakim Noah, and you look at Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, and now you add a guy like Doug McDermott . . . I think that’s what makes it attractive.’’
Maybe so, but it starts with Thibodeau. Anthony has to decide if that’s good enough.