Optimistically, no news was good news Tuesday as Chicago endured another long day of guessing Anthony's intentions.
Realistically, the longer this drags on, the more you wonder if Anthony will be taking his talents to South Beach too — the worst possible destination for the Bulls.
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If Anthony decides to stay in New York and play for the Knicks, he has 59 million reasons that reasonable people understand. If Anthony chooses the Lakers and a chance to be a Hollywood celebrity over a chance to win an NBA title in Chicago, he reveals himself a greedy superstar — but at least he becomes the Western Conference's problem. If he aligns himself with James and the Heat, the Bulls can forget about getting to the NBA Finals in the foreseeable future without contacting StubHub.
But if Anthony somehow still picks the Bulls — getting harder to imagine every hour — then stop working on your pronunciation of Nikola Mirotic and start buying No. 7 jerseys.
Anxiety hangs in the lakefront air like humidity, with the Bulls remaining quiet in free agency and Anthony maintaining his awkward silence. Tuesday marked a week since the Bulls made their presentation, a professional pitch said to impress Anthony no matter how much Derrick Rose was involved.
What Chicagoans don't know scares Bulls fans more than what they do. They remember those reports that Anthony didn't want to drag out this process and worry. More than one league source asked about a timetable suggested any decision would come closer to the end of the week than the beginning. The only people happy about that own stock in Twitter.
The most recent and concerning development for the Bulls — and possible reason for the delay — involves Chris Bosh. Reports say the Rockets stand ready to offer Bosh a maximum four-year, $88 million contract to return home to Texas. Whether Bosh accepts significantly more money rather than take a pay cut to play for a Heat team waiting on James likely made for a restless night's sleep for Bulls executives.
Bosh heading to Houston immediately would increase the once-remote possibility of Anthony joining forces with James in Miami, the Bulls' worst-case free-agent scenario. A James-Anthony-Dwyane Wade alliance easily would re-establish the Heat as the team to beat in the East. Those who scoff at the notion neglect the No. 1 rule of free agency: Never underestimate Heat President Pat Riley.
Riley reportedly will meet with James on Wednesday in Las Vegas, where LBJ also plotted his future over dinner with Wade earlier in the week. Chances are James wasn't extolling the virtues of Cuyahoga County. The James-to-Cleveland buzz just seems like a cruel joke nobody around Lake Erie will feel like laughing about in a few days.
Maybe Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took his angry letter to James four years ago off his website simply to update it. On the infamous night in July 2010, Gilbert called "The Decision" a "heartless and callous action.'' If James rocks Cleveland again by saying he really wasn't as interested in a hometown reunion as his agent's words or his wife's Instagram suggested, Gilbert really could drive traffic to Cavaliers.com. Imagine the signs around Quicken Loans Arena if James spurns the Cavs a second time: "WE ARE ALL (HOSTILE) WITNESSES.''
Whatever frustration Gilbert or Clevelanders feel if James indeed re-signs with the Heat after raising hopes, intentionally or not, they must direct some at themselves. Fool me once … The romance of James returning to the franchise offered a tantalizing storyline in the silly season of NBA plot twists. But reality set in when looking closer at the Cavs roster. It possesses young talent chock full of potential. James is all about production, the most dominant player in any pro sport able to sway the balance of NBA power with one signature.
Bulls fans actually should root for James to go back to Cleveland. That would make the Eastern Conference winnable for any well-coached team with two stars. Know of any?
No word describes the Bulls' role in this saga better than helpless.
They can keep Mirotic on hold and the lines of communication open with Pau Gasol, who offers an upgrade from Carlos Boozer. They quietly can explore quality backup plans such as Trevor Ariza, Gordon Hayward or — gasp — Luol Deng, at the right price. They can discuss loosely what the Timberwolves would take for Kevin Love, now or at the trade deadline.
They can stay patient and keep hoping singer Tom Petty was right, and waiting really is the hardest part.