Free Agent Update: Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony: 2013-14 Salary ($21,390,000)

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

 Potential Suitors: Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks

bulls_150 The Bulls are the leaders in the Melo mania at the moment and they went all out yesterday in their meeting with Carmelo…

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Not only did they go all-out with the signs, but according to BasketballInsiders, Derrick Rose went through a private workout to show Carmelo that he was 100% healthy. Additionally, at the meeting, Noah, Rose and Gibson were present. After touring the facility and having their meeting, the group went to eat dinner with Tom Thibodeau, Jerry Reinsdorf and Scottie Pippen all in attendance as well.

Not only do they present the best fit in terms of two sides needing each other, but the Bulls have a championship caliber roster that they wouldn’t have to gut to bring Carmelo in. Derrick Rose the 2011 MVP will be back and healthy and the reigning defensive player of the year in Joakim Noah will be there as well. According to reports from KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, both the Bulls and Carmelo want to keep Taj Gibson around as well. The Bulls need offense and Melo needs a championship and a defensive core around him. It’s the perfect fit. As of now the Bulls have 65.5 million on the books not including Doug McDermott’s future salary, which projects to be around 2.3 million. That leaves the Bulls with around (and all of this is rough math) 67.8 million – approximately 4.6 above the salary cap. The Bulls can only do one thing to clear the space to sign Carmelo if they want to keep Taj Gibson and that is amnesty Carlos Boozer. Apparently the front-office doesn’t want to let him go with nothing in return but if both sides want Gibson on the team next year, there is no trade package they could put together that would clear enough space to bring in Melo. Amnestying Boozer is the only way and I think if they really want to keep Gibson, we’ll see Boozer gone soon. Once Boozer is amnestied, the Bulls could offer Carmelo 15 million a year, but according to Chris Broussard, Carmelo isn’t willing to take that little. The next step would be to trade either Butler or Mike Dunleavy, but the Bulls would obviously prefer to trade Dunleavy as Butler has proven to be an absolute lockdown defender on the perimeter. Dunleavy also makes a million more than Butler and can clear more space for the Bulls if he’s traded. If Dunleavy is traded, the Bulls can offer Carmelo around 18 million a year – a figure Carmelo would gladly accept.  Their roster would then look like Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah with Doug McDermott and possibly Kirk Hinrich and D.J Augustin off the bench. To me that looks like the next NBA champion.

lakers_150The Lakers are in an interesting position because as of right now, they only have Robert Sacre, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and the newly drafted Julius Randle (inevitably) under contract. Between those 4, they have (with Randle earning 120% of his rookie scale price) $37,113,603 on the books. Kent Bazemore is an unrestricted free agent, and Ryan Kelly is restricted, while Kendall Marshall is unguaranteed going into next season. Nick Young is also unrestricted but is looking to sign with the Lakers. If Carmelo were to sign for the max of 22.4 million dollars, he’d be leaving the Lakers with around 4 million and change to spend on the rest of the roster. We’re not even sure Steve Nash is going to be healthy next season and how Kobe Bryant will fare after playing only 6 games dating back to April 12th, 2013. The team would be pretty bad to say the least. There is too much uncertainty. Health concerns not only to Nash and Bryant but Randle and his foot. We’re not sure how Randle will even play in his rookie season. There is too many “what if’s” if I’m Carmelo. A team of Kobe, Carmelo, Julius Randle and…. isn’t enough to win a championship. Carmelo also has to think about how he and Kobe will co-exist as both are considered to be the two best isolation offensive players in the league. Carmelo is leaving a team in New York that is about to rebuild and going to Los Angeles would be leaving for the sake of leaving. The Lakers haven’t even been linked to any big name free agents at the moment and with Kobe retiring in 2 years, there is limited time to win a championship.

rockets_150 I hope Carmelo sees the poor fit he’d have in Houston. Carmelo, Harden and Howard all need the ball to have an affect on the game. They all love to get touches. They’re all for the most part isolation players. Sure, the Rockets would have the most explosive offense in the league but bringing Carmelo in makes the already poor defense even worse. However, I think the names will blind both sides from properly realizing what they’d be if the two sides came together. The Rockets would have to trade Jeremy Lin to acquire Carmelo – the same situation if they wanted to acquire LeBron.

NYKNICKS_Logo-FinalCarmelo is not going to re-sign in New York. I don’t know why he would unless he also signs a 1-2 year extension the same length as LeBron and they could very well align their free agency again for another run together in 2016 or 2017. Carmelo wants to win now, he’s 30, and he doesn’t have time to rebuild with the Knicks or wait a year. Every year counts when your legacy is riding on it. Phil Jackson also played this all wrong. The only incentive to re-signing with New York would be the 5 year, 129 million dollar deal they could offer him. However, Phil has been adamant that the Knicks will not be offering Carmelo the max so what’s in it for Carmelo? He won’t get paid in New York and he won’t win, so what does the Knicks pitch really have going for them besides the possibility that Derek Fisher is a great coach and that the Knicks have lots of cap space for next summer.

Dallas-MavericksThe Mavericks are meeting with Carmelo Anthony today but the chances of the Mavericks signing Carmelo, is very very unlikely for so many reasons, it makes me laugh that the Mavericks think they even have a chance. Here’s reason number 1: The Mavericks just acquired Raymond Felton, the worst starting point guard in the league and a big reason the Knicks sucked so much last year. 2. The Mavericks are in the Western Conference, which is just exponentially harder than the East if he were to play on the Bulls. 3. The Mavericks have just under 29 million in cap space and are definitely going to re-sign Dirk. So if Dirk was feeling absolutely generous he could take 12 million? 10 less than last year and give Carmelo 17 million, but that’s probably too little for Carmelo. So Dirk could take 10 million? And leave Carmelo 19 million? That could work but Dirk taking 12 million less seems unlikely. The Mavericks have said they are not giving max contracts so it also lessens their chances if that’s what Carmelo wants. 4. The Mavericks would hypothetically, if they signed Carmelo, have three high volume, high usage, offensive players who need the ball; Dirk, Monta and Carmelo. Three players who love the ball and three players who don’t play defense, that doesn’t sound like a winning formula to me. The Mavericks will not sign Carmelo.

Where will he go?

Chicago.

The Bulls need scoring and Carmelo needs a championship contender who can hide his defensive lapses. Chicago would provide him with the best chance of winning a championship. Not only would he be playing in the East, but he’d be with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. A starting five of those guys instantly makes them the best team in the Eastern Conference and a probable lock for the Finals given everybody stays healthy. The Bulls would be bringing Dunleavy, McDermott and whoever they use their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions on off the bench. Carmelo would be surrounded by a deep, talented roster and would be on the best defensive team in the NBA, which is something he needs around him. Carmelo wouldn’t have to adjust his game to play with the Bulls because besides Rose, nobody else in the starting lineup is offensive minded. All the Bulls need to do now is amnesty Boozer.

 

Carmelo Should Get Out of New York Before It’s Too Late

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PER ESPN:

“I would leave today [if I were Carmelo],” Roberston said on SiriusXM NBA radio Thursday. “… Let me tell you why: wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn’t shoot they said he didn’t shoot enough…No matter what he does in New York they’re going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on [the Knicks] that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time.” He continued with, “If he goes to Houston, they’re gonna win everything,” Robertson told host and well-known Knicks fan Spike Lee. “You look at LeBron [James], LeBron’s got a great game and the kid down at Oklahoma, [Kevin] Durant’s got a great game — they can’t out-shoot Carmelo. … I’ve seen him in a lot of basketball games over the years and I’m telling you right now the kid, he just can get that shot away. Now he’s gotten smarter, he’s going to the basket a lot. But what gets me is that everyone thinks that everything that happens bad is his fault.”

So Oscar Robertson believes Carmelo should ditch New York for Houston. Is he right?

Absolutely.

While Carmelo doesn’t necessarily have to go to Houston, there is no point in staying in New York. The only reason I can think of is money. New York can sign Carmelo to a maximum contract worth 129 million dollars over the course of 5 years if he stays. If he leaves he can only sign a 95.8 million contract for 4 years. So yes, the extra 33.2 million dollars is definitely enticing – think of all the things you could buy and the lifestyle you could live with that kind of money. However, Carmelo Anthony is for the most part already living that life. With endorsements and his 21 million dollar salary this year, there isn’t much more that he needs. Take into account his wife’s salary from TV and her book, The Love Playbook, and the Anthony family is living pretty.

Phil Jackson has made statements regarding superstars taking less money to help the team as a whole, but if Carmelo is going to be taking less than a max contract with New York why not take less with a team that has a better chance of winning a championship in the future. The Knicks have made “power moves” toward the end of the year to try and make New York a more attractive destination for Carmelo but what they have now and what they accomplished this season leaves anything but optimism in Carmelo’s mind.

The team was by far the most disappointing team of 2014. After a pleasingly surprising 2013 campaign, finishing 54-28 and 2nd in the East. Of course they lost in the 2nd round to the up and coming Pacers but not only was it the playoffs, it was something to build off. This year they played like a completely different team. J.R Smith had one of his worst years ever, full of marijuana, shoe-lace untying, and chucking. Raymond Felton almost shot his wife. Tyson Chandler broke his leg. Iman Shumpert faced a slump. Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t really start playing till the end of the season. Andrea Bargnani was hardly worth his contract, proved that white men could jump and hurt his elbow in the process. Carmelo Anthony, if he were to come back next season, would have absolutely nothing to work with except for an abysmal 2014 season, a new coach that would need to “gel” with the whole roster and then a rebuilding project starting in 2015 when all the big contracts are gone.

Carmelo has two viable options in my opinion. One more than the other. He can either not opt-out this season and be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, the same year all the big names would be free agents. I’m talking the Lebrons of the world. That would involve probably one more year of not making the playoffs considering the up and coming teams in the East (Wizards, Raptors, Hawks) as well as the power teams on the top (Bulls, Nets, Heat, Pacers). Then a free agency summer in 2015 where he could pair up with another big name free agent and try win with whoever that may be.

The other option, and the one Oscar Robertson is a firm believer in is ditching this summer for Houston or Chicago. Chicago is expected to amnesty Boozer and then would probably have room to sign Carmelo this summer. Carmelo has previously stated his respect for Tom Thibodeau and the way the Bulls play defense. Joakim Noah has also talked about possibly bringing Carmelo to the windy city next year. The Bulls would be bringing Derrick Rose back next year as well as defensive player of the year Joakim Noah. Along with a team full of hard-working defenders and two-way players, and a consistent coach of the year candidate in Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls would love to have Carmelo and for Carmelo’s defense a move to Chicago could be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

If not the Bulls, the Rockets who look like they’ll be going down fast to the Blazers this year. The Rockets and Carmelo fit together perfectly. They both like to shoot the ball, and they both want to win. With Dwight Howard down low, James Harden handling the ball and Melo spreading the floor on the wing they would have a very very dangerous trio. They’d most likely have to get rid of Parsons, Lin and Asik to get this deal done but for Carmelo it would be worth it. I think with Dwight and Carmelo they’d both be in stages of their careers where they know they can’t play isolation ball for their teams to win. With the fast paced offense and strong role players for Houston, Carmelo would finally have a team that not only fits his skills but he would have people he wouldn’t mind deferring to and thus probably ridding him off all criticism. The Rockets are right in the thick of things in the Western Conference as opposed to the Knicks who have nothing to work with and will most likely need a rebuilding project in the near future.

Phil Jackson’s hiring and the Mike Woodson’s staff firing was a nice try but Carmelo has to see past the bright lights and the dollar signs and realize New York is and has been for a while a toxic place for basketball. The team is full of big overpaid contracts, no coach at the moment and a team that is going through an entire culture and roster change. For Carmelo, in the prime of his career at 30 years old has no time to start over. He needs to be somewhere he can win and whether it be Houston, or Chicago, Carmelo has to get out of New York as soon as possible.

 

The Loss of Linsanity

The life of a Knick Fan is a roller coaster ride. This season has been nothing different. First, Linsanity emerges and the entire world begins to believe in a miracle. Then, D’antoni quits under the bright lights of Broadway’s media. Then New York starts winning again, and finally New York begins to think they have a contender. Then Amar’e gets injured for 2-4 weeks and Lin gets injured for the rest of the year. So as of now New York is content with their season. They’re just above .500 and after an up and down season, winning is a pleasant antidote for their anxiousness.

To the average fan New York will do great for the rest of the season. The team is responding well to Mike Woodson, Carmelo is back in his groove and Amar’e will be returning just in time for their projected matchup with Chicago in the playoffs. However, being the realist and experienced Knick fan that I am I can see through it all. The Knicks have just hit their peak, I see them finishing the regular season off well, but when they reach the playoffs they don’t really stand a chance. That’s all thanks to the loss of Lin. Image

Jeremy Lin was more then a point guard in New York. He was the player who brought the team together, who encouraged the team to share the ball and play together. He also gave the Knicks much needed depth. Especially if they face a team like Chicago who are 14-7 without Rose on their team, where depth is essential. Without Lin the Knicks have to give Baron Davis huge minutes for the rest of the season, and you have to wonder if he will hold up, considering his injury riddled season. Besides Baron Davis, Shumpert is the only combo guard on the team who can really run their offense. With Lin out, that means more time for Bibby and Douglas players who aren’t used to minutes.

Besides the loss of depth they also have the hardest schedule for the remainder of the regular season and that means other guys are going to have to step up. Never mind Amar’e who has been below average all season will be coming back from injury and will be extra rusty.

I just don’t see things going well for New York anymore. The ride’s been fun but unfortunately it’s time to get off. Maybe next year they will be blessed with a healthy team, because with a fully healthy team. This team is dangerous and can go far in the playoffs when given the chance.

Excuses Running Low for D’antoni

New York anticipated a big season this year, with all their big signings, their good looking rookies and their two superstars. New York being New York expected HUGE things from their team straight out of the gate, which isn’t unreasonable considering the personnel on the team. And when the team began in 10th place in the East everyone looked down the bench at the coach. They look and wonder what the hell is he doing. He has all the pieces, now put them together.

Then as the fire on D’antoni’s seat slowly rised we got this little Harvard Grad who lit up the NBA for two straight weeks. Putting an end to the hot seat. A relief to D’antoni who knows he had nothing to do with Lin’s emergence as a key player on the team. He thought he was okay for the moment, he thought everyone had forgot about his job security.

It was cute in the beginning, the little Linsanity. I mean beating useless teams like New Jersey, Minnesota, Toronto, Sacramento and Utah. They had some big wins against L.A, Dallas, and Atlanta without two stars. But then the schedule turned around and guess what happened.  Linsanity starts to cool down, the knicks blow 3 in a row to playoff caliber teams, all to former champions. As the Linsanity begins to cool down, as the team begins to blow leads like to Boston, and then dig holes like to the Spurs and Mavs you begin to wonder who to blame now. I don’t know how to blame the players, they’ve been playing great. Which leads me to believe D’antoni has to be the one to answer the questions now.

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He has nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no excuses to make. If you look at the Knicks’ roster you’ll realize they have all the pieces to be a championship team. They have two superstars, a top defensive center, a budding star at the point, two solid rookies off the bench, an intangibles guy at the 2. Then you look to the bench, where you have two guys who can put up 20 every night in Baron Davis and J.R Smith. There’s Steve Novak who is arguably the best 3 point shooter in the league. You have Jared Jeffries one of the best dirty work players in the league. That’s a solid 11 man rotation full of talent and pieces that should win a championship on paper. Or at least compete for one.

The Knicks aren’t even competing for a championship as of now. They’re not even in the running. They’re 8th in the East and don’t seem to be making a fight for 7th right now as the Celtics are on a 5 game winning streak and the Knicks on a 3 game losing streak.

What else does D’Antoni need? He has all the pieces, this is arguably the best team he has coached. What else does he want from a team? He certainly can’t ask for too much patience anymore because this is getting exhausting.  It doesn’t make sense. Here’s a tip for D’antoni. Play the second unit one game as starters one game. Right now their playing better defense by far then the first unit. The first unit are a scoring unit. Get some stops, then bring in the stars to blow open the game. Maybe even teach the whole team to play defense. I mean giving up an average of 109 points in three games is disgusting.  Even in one went to overtime.

There’s nowhere to hide for D’antoni. Especially under the bright lights of Broadway. He’s gotta do something to turn this team around soon or he’ll be out of here before he can say Linsanity.

Why the Knicks Can’t Get it Right

I’ve been preaching this for a while now. I’ve been telling everyone, trying to explain to everyone that the Knicks just won’t be able to do it. It’s not their fault, necessarily and it’s not too complicated either.

The Knicks were on the right track a year and a half ago. They had a superstar in Amar’e and they had a great group of solid role players. Guys like Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Shawne Williams and so on. They weren’t title contenders but in a few years they would be on their way. However, New York isn’t a city that has too much patience. They couldn’t watch their team evolve and their role players evolve like they should’ve. They couldn’t have waited a season when Gallo would put up a career high 37 points at MSG. Instead, they threw their whole team down the gutter in return for Melo. The guy who wanted to come here anyway. The guy who would’ve signed in free agency. But again that word patience isn’t one of their strengths.

The 2nd half of the season went as expected for a completely new team trying to gel with one another. Melo and Amar’e were figuring out how to spread the wealth and the new guys figuring out their roles on the new team. After getting swept in the playoffs, gelling was still the excuse. Here we are, 16 games into the season and still they use “gelling” as an excuse. The reason this team can’t win is because they have two of the same superstar. It’s simple.

If you really compare Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony they are the same player. They even go one after the other in ESPN Rankings. They both love Iso’s they love the mid range game and can get to the basket. They also don’t enjoy passing too much. This explains why Amar’e shot selection, percentage and points per game have dropped since they brought in Melo. So when you add two Amar’e Stoudemires to one team then of course the ball movement will stop. Of course they won’t work together. They’re not compatible.

Take a look at Dwyane Wade and Lebron James. They are similar players as well, love driving to the basket. Aren’t the best shooters in the world. They’re extremely athletic and love to pass. That last aspect is what makes them compatible. They love to pass. If you have two superstars who love to pass then you’re golden. They will work together. But when both stars’ games revolve around one on ones, well don’t be surprised when you have a 6 game losing streak. It was stupid to get Melo through a trade. Getting Melo in free agency would’ve been smarter. They weren’t winning a championship anyway, and they would have a bench and some backups for when the offense got stagnant. They through away their future and now they’re in a ditch.

I don’t see too many ways to get out. I’m not saying they can’t turn it around and become a good team. But they’ll never become a championship contender with the team they have. They are pretenders like no other team. To be honest, I think you have to get rid of Amar’e. It’s definitely sad to part ways with the guy who brought you back in the first place, and is somewhat disrespectful. However, it’s gotta be done. This is no hit on Amar’e’s game I love him. He’s a great talent but it’s the organizations fault for ruining the cast around him. He is also a less willing passer then Melo so I would rather get rid of him. I think trading him for Deron Williams could do the trick for them. Giving the Knicks a willing passer to run the offense and move the ball. Also, getting rid of Melo’s unnecessary twin. That’s just my opinion.

The Knicks are in the presence of superstars. No doubt. But if you really disect their problems, you’ll find they have two of the same player.

Top 7 Players in the NBA

After Rick Bucher gave one of the most atrocious top 7 NBA rankings I’ve ever seen, I figured it be appropriate for me to give my rankings. Around 10 games into the season my top 7 players are as follows.

1. Kobe Bryant:

Maybe not overall is he the best, but right now, Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. He has two back to back 40 point nights. He is playing with a hurt wrist, he is in his mid thirties and he is carrying a team that everyone was doubting earlier in the season to a 7-3 record. 4 games remember were without Bynum on the court.

2.

Kevin Durant will go at number 2 not number (8) like Rick would’ve wanted. I had Lebron at this spot a few games ago but his recent troubles in the 4th quarter have left a sour taste in my mouth. Kevin Durant is dropping 26 points a game as always and is bulldozing through the Western Conference with a record of 10-2 See the difference between him and Westbrook is that if Westbrook left the Thunder, they would still be contenders. If KD left the Thunder, well….

3.

Lebron James: He seemed like the early MVP candidate a few games ago, unfortunately he slid down my rankings with his 3-6 performance from the free throw line last night. Including a missed free throw that could’ve won the game. However, he is dominating every game he plays. Not only with 29 points a game but with about 8 assists per game as well. He probably has the most overall game in the NBA, he can do everything on the floor.

4.

Dwight Howard: He and Dwyane Wade are really irreversable at this spot but I think the way Dwight has been able to carry his team to a very surprising and fast start in the midst of all the trade drama is truly exceptional. He is dominating the big men in the league with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Look at Dwight’s supporting cast and then look at what he has been able to turn their team into this season.

5.

Dwyane Wade: Dwyane Wade is playing great this season and I had him as a surprise Defensive Player of the Year. His numbers are a bit lower than last year but that’s thanks to Lebron’s dominance this season. Dwyane Wade has most impressed me in the way he was able to close out games in the beginning of the season. Look @Charlotte and @Minnesota

6.

Derrick Rose: The Former MVP had to be here somewhere. I don’t think he could be any higher on this list. He is still carrying his semi-weak offensive crew through the season and he is still making unbelievable athletic plays. However, he isn’t putting up numbers like any of the guys on this list, and thanks to his team’s lockdown defense he isn’t having to make clutch plays. I don’t think he has a chance of MVP this year, to be honest the only reason he won last year was because Boozer and Noah missed a ton of games and he had to carry the team alone. He wasn’t any more explosive then Lebron but it’s what his play was doing for his team, if they had been there last season he wouldn’t have won MVP.

7.

Carmelo Anthony: I am very impressed with Melo this season. He is doing his job on the offensive end, scoring around 27 points a night and grabbing 7 rebounds a game. He is extremely clutch, and has been this whole season. Look @Washington or opening day vs Boston. But what’s really stood out is his extra effort on his defensive game. The area of his game that has been criticized the most. He is clearly getting into players on defense and he’s averaging around 1.5 steals per game.

Players that didn’t make the cut were Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook. I didn’t include Dirk because he hasn’t been having the best season this year, and neither has his team. Chris Paul is just starting to make a serious impact on the Clippers and I think it’s too soon to judge him as a top 7 player. And Russell Westbrook just isn’t a top 7 player because he has too many flaws in his game. For example, his turnovers, jump shot, and decision making. He is too young and I cannot believe Rick Bucher had him ahead of Durant.

Problems in Knick World

If anybody thought the Knicks were going to instantly be a better team, they were wrong. They lost a big lead to Boston and only won because of lucky shots made by Melo. Tonight’s game against Golden State is atrocious. Winning by 8 points in the first half, then losing by 15 in the second. It’s all due to the lack of defense for 48 minutes. A common story in Knick world. Then there is their awful offense. I can’t believe I’d be saying this about a Mike D’antoni team but they can’t do a thing on the offensive end. When Amar’e and Melo aren’t scoring, like tonight, the Knicks have absolutely nothing. They have no flow, they have no playmakers with the ball. They have no passers and they look stagnant. They aren’t going to achieve any of the high expectations or goals set for themselves if they continue to play like this. Their offense cannot revolve solely around two players. They will get you 20 or so but then what? You’re stuck with Bibby shooting an old jump shot, and Bill Walker and Toney Douglas throwing up poor threes.

I realize these two games are just two out of a 66 game season. However, this game really shows the Knicks’ true colors. When their stars aren’t producing then this team is nothing. In a compressed season, they can’t count on two players to score for the whole team, or one player to defend for the whole team. They desperately need Iman Shumpert back, they need Baron Davis to distribute and they need an overall change of attitude. And culture. Ring a bell?