Carmelo Anthony is leaning toward signing with a new team as a free agent this summer, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski’s sources tell him that the Bulls and Rockets are the front-runners to land the All-Star forward. Anthony has been expected to exercise his early termination option on the final year of his deal and become a free agent, but has previously stated an openness to remaining with the Knicks despite their disastrous season.
Last night, Anthony met with Knicks president Phil Jackson, GM Steve Mills, and new coach Derek Fisher to hear their plan to build a contender around him, as first reported by Al Iannazzone of Newsday. The meeting wasn’t persuasive to Anthony, per Wojnarowski’s sources. Jackson has asked ‘Melo to consider sacrifice and patience in helping the team build toward the 2015 free agent class, when the severe cap inflexibility currently hampering New York will subside. It appears that Anthony finds the prospect of joining a contender for an immediate shot at a title more appealing than waiting at least another year to see if the same opportunity will materialize with the Knicks.
Wojnarowski’s sources suggest that Anthony has been turned off by Jackson’s public comments about his future with the team, and there is some doubt around Anthony’s camp and the league that Jackson genuinely wants the All-Star to stay in New York. Anthony is only willing to accept a reduced salary if it is directly tired to a significant, immediate acquisition of talent, writes Wojnarowski.
The Yahoo! scribe reports that the Chicago and Houston front offices are working diligently to arrange for a signing of Anthony, which would require significant maneuvers for both teams. If the Bulls are willing to amnesty Carlos Boozer, their path to clearing the necessary cap space is easier, since the other biggest piece for the Bulls to unload would be Taj Gibson, a valuable, starting-caliber power forward. The Rockets would likely need the Knicks or another team to find it agreeable to take on the expiring contracts of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to make room for Anthony.