The Bulls’ push to acquire New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is heating up heading into NBA draft week, and perhaps no one wants his services more than coach Tom Thibodeau.
According to one of Anthony’s former coaches, Thibodeau has reached out to him and to several other coaches who have worked with Anthony with numerous calls.
‘‘I even told Tom that there may be days he will want to blow his own head off when it comes to Melo’s defense, but he keeps saying he knows he can make it work,’’ the coach said. ‘‘It’s not that Carmelo can’t play defense, it’s just how often. And he knows every trick in the book on getting around that.’’
That the Bulls are in full-court-press mode on Anthony comes as no surprise, considering center Joakim Noah courted him during All-Star Weekend in February and continued the recruitment throughout the second half of the season.
And it would seem Noah isn’t alone. Point guard Derrick Rose reportedly has gotten involved, too, and Thibodeau has used back channels to let Anthony know his addition could mean big things for everyone involved.
‘‘There’s no question [the Bulls] would be better with [Anthony], with or without his defensive inconsistencies,’’ the coach said. ‘‘As I told Tom: ‘You’re in the East, Tom. Remember, you’re in the East.’ ’’
Even without Rose (surgery on right knee) and forward Luol Deng (traded) after early January, the Bulls won 48 games during the regular season and finished with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference before losing to the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs.
With the Miami Heat appearing vulnerable in their loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, the Indiana Pacers in need of psychoanalysis and the Toronto Raptors’ roster uncertainty, a threesome of Anthony, Rose and Noah could challenge for the conference title next season.
The question, though, is how does a deal for Anthony get done? Multiple media outlets have reported a sign-and-trade that includes the expiring contract of forward Carlos Boozer is the favored route, especially with the Knicks preparing for Anthony to announce Monday that he will opt out of his current deal.
Such a scenario likely would involve the Bulls sending at least one of their first-round picks — No. 16 or No. 19 — to the Knicks, who are in rebuilding mode and need to start with a point guard.
There are also reports the Bulls might be willing to deal another draft pick in pursuit of Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo, which means they’re serious about pursuing a championship now.
The Bulls’ offseason aggressiveness isn’t shocking to anyone around the league. At the NBA Finals last week, several sources indicated general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson were ‘‘looking to exhaust as many assets as it will take’’ to make the Bulls a contender.