The Lakers? They are aware of the difference in the free-agent choices, and that's why it has been reported by several outlets that the Lakers might sit out much of the 2014 market and wait until 2015, when they'll have more money to spend and the pool of talent in free agency will be much deeper. L.A. certainly is an attractive option for Anthony, but the reality is the Lakers are nearly as big a rebuilding project as the Knicks. And, without knowing how Kobe Bryant will return from two devastating leg injuries or how free agency will play in 2015, it's hard to tell what the Lakers will be.
The Bulls? To make room for Anthony, even at a reduced rate, would require several roster moves. They would have to use the amnesty provision on Boozer and possibly eat more than $16 million. Then the Bulls would have to execute at least one cap-clearing trade, perhaps even moving prized forward Taj Gibson, to make it happen. In addition, they'd have to put off signing prized European prospect Nikola Mirotic. It also would put into doubt whether the Bulls could afford to sign Jimmy Butler to a long-term extension before next season.
None of these items is all that attractive to the Bulls. When Anthony went to the Knicks, New York had to gut its roster to make it possible in a trade with the Denver Nuggets. That did not work out well in the long run, and why Anthony would want to replicate this is unclear. But Chicago is indeed a possible landing place for Anthony and would create a "big three" with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. But about a dozen dominoes would have to fall to make it happen.
The Heat? It would take James, Wade and Bosh all opting out of their deals. Then the Heat would have to let one of them leave, which is extremely unlikely. Or all four of them, including Anthony, would have to accept pay cuts that would average in the range of $10 million apiece per season. This is not impossible, and the word "impossible" should never be used with the Heat anyway. Also, the same agency represents Anthony, Wade and Bosh. However, even with Pat Riley leading the discussion, this is even more of an extreme reach than the Bulls.
The Suns? This is an intriguing option because of their young roster and desirable location plus their renowned training staff that has extended players' careers. However, the Suns have restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe to deal with, and it would be hard to fit both unless they work together and both accept less than market value. Again, it's possible but would require some challenging orchestration that involves tens of millions of dollars.
The Mavs? Owner Mark Cuban has struck out on his top choices in free agency in the past two years. He has another window this year with Nowitzki publicly promising to take a pay cut to accommodate a player such as Anthony. This actually might be the most realistic scenario but would take Nowitzki's willingness to forfeit a hefty portion of his salary. This would be an upgrade for Anthony without a doubt, but it is questionable whether Dallas is truly the best he can do.
All of these scenarios are generally the same for James, which is why staying with the juggernaut Heat makes the most sense for him. Especially with the potential in 2015 to get one of those big-name stars alongside him in Miami, a chance Anthony might miss out on.