Carmelo Anthony has been a hot topic for Celtics fans ever since Rajon Rondo brought up the hypothetical possibility of acquiring the Knicks star last week.
Any dreams of the Celtics finding a way to land the All-Star small forward may have taken a serious hit though, since it appears there could be some hefty competition for Anthony’s services if the veteran scorer hits the open market this summer.
According to a new ESPN report the Miami Heat plan on targeting Anthony this offseason if he opts out of his $23.5 million player option with the Knicks for next season and becomes a free agent.
Sources told ESPN.com that Heat officials and the team's leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at adding New York Knicks scoring machine Carmelo Anthony this summer in free agency.
All of this comes as the Heat trail the Spurs by a 2-1 margin in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Sources say internal conversations within the Heat organization about pursuing this course have run concurrently with Miami's bid to win a third consecutive championship, with sources adding that James in particular is likely to try to recoup potential salary sacrificed through fresh off-court business opportunities if the Heat's new dream scenario does come to fruition.
Both the New York Post and ESPN.com are reporting that Anthony has until June 23 to make a decision about whether to opt out of his current contract with New York.
So how exactly could the Heat get away with adding Anthony to their Big Three under the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement and salary cap? Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James all have early termination options in their contracts, giving each player the ability to opt out of their deals this summer. If all of those players were willing to take a sizable pay cut, the Heat could have enough room under the salary cap to bring back all three players at reduced salaries and sign Anthony to a handsome contract in free agency.
It would take some serious maneuvering from Heat president Pat Riley, but as we saw in the summer of 2010, you can’t rule anything out.
So would a scenario like this affect Boston’s offseason plans? The possibility of a Big Four in Miami would shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference even further for the next few seasons and could put Boston's hopes of making a big splash this summer on hold.
If Boston's front office planned on pursuing Anthony this summer, they probably knew it would be a long shot anyway thanks to a lengthy list of suitors. Miami's interest in Melo would reduce those odds even further in all likelihood.
Boston's chances of pursuing Kevin Love could be affected as well. In fact, the formation of a new super team in Miami could dissuade Love from even wanting to be dealt to the Eastern Conference, since his chances of getting out of the East during the postseason would be slim at best.
In that scenario, Boston may be better off holding onto their younger assets and draft picks as they plan out a longer rebuilding route, since the team would have little chance of contending in the interim.
For the time being, as Rondo might like to say, this is all speculation. There isn't even any talk in the report about whether Anthony would be open to the possibility of joining Miami.
We won’t know for sure how real an Anthony-to-Miami possibility is until June 23. If Anthony elects to opt for the open market then, this scenario has to be taken seriously when free agency begins on July 1. Stay tuned.