Carmelo Anthony: If trade to Chicago Bulls won't include Joakim Noah, is Luol Deng available?

The latest reported it-city in Carmelo Anthony trade talks is Chicago, with some onliners floating the prospect of Melo being traded for Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.

The Bulls promptly responded by telling ESPN Chicago that Noah's not going anywhere. But does that mean Deng (and others) might be?

I first argued that Chicago made the most sense for Carmelo and the Nuggets back in July. At that time, I wrote:

Throughout the off-season suspense over where LeBron James might wind up, prognosticators aplenty put their money on Chicago, which made sense. Had LeBron gone to the Bulls, the combination of him, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer would have been formidable -- at least as strong as the LeBron-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh triumvirate in Miami.

Could the same statement be made substituting Carmelo for LeBron in the Bulls' plans? Maybe. Teams would quake at the thought of facing Melo and Boozer side by side, with Noah's peskiness waiting in the wings. The Bulls' offensive balance might be a bit lopsided, with the three, four and five slots better stocked than the one and the two. But in the playoffs, when muscle counts for more, that could literally be a huge advantage.

Moreover, the Bulls have more to offer the Nuggets than do the New York Knicks, Anthony's other favored destination according to former Denver Poster Marc Spears, now writing for Yahoo! Sports. In addition to Deng, there's also James Johnson and Taj Gibson, two young players with a lot of upside.

If the Nuggets came away from a Carmelo swap with Deng and either Johnson or Gibson (my preference would be the latter), Denver fans might not feel so much like eating a shotgun barrel. And Melo, with Boozer and the superb Derrick Rose at his side, would achieve his dreamed-of superstar team-up.

It may not be a win-win for both teams, but it's a helluva lot better than nothing for Denverites, whether Noah's off the table or not.