Bulls or Rockets better for Melo?

Which rumored destination provides better title shot for Knicks star?

Updated: June 18, 2014, 10:47 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

AnthonyJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony will have a number of issues to consider before deciding on a new home.

The San Antonio Spurs haven't even held their championship parade yet, but offseason rumors already have started buzzing. Last week, Carmelo Anthony speculation took center stage when rumors of a possible move to Miami surfaced. Then over the weekend, a Yahoo! Sports report suggested that Anthony was leaning toward leaving New York and his favored destinations were Chicago and Houston.

The buzz around Anthony's free agency is only going to build from here, and possible landing spots for his services will multiply like passes in a San Antonio half-court set. But let's deal with the news at hand and take a look at the situation from Anthony's perspective. Which team gives Anthony a better near-term shot at a title -- the Chicago Bulls or Houston Rockets?

Let's assume the following things are true:

  1. Anthony is going to opt out.
  2. His No. 1 goal is to maximize his chances of winning a title next season.
  3. He's identified Chicago and Houston as the best places to make that happen.
  4. Anthony is convinced that Derrick Rose will be the Derrick Rose of old (pre-injuries).

Starting point

The Bulls and Rockets were both 4-seeds that went down in the first round of the playoffs. Houston won six more games, but the Rockets were in a much tougher conference. Houston's edge over Chicago was dulled because the Rockets had to play 52 of their 82 games against a tougher schedule. However, let's not forget that the Bulls won 48 games while getting 10 games of below-replacement performance from Rose and 76 games of the same from Carlos Boozer -- the two highest-paid players on the roster. The Bulls hope to get a healthy Rose back into the fold and can shed the last year of Boozer's contract. In that light, a 48-win baseline doesn't sound so bad, especially given the conference disparity.