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Carmelo Anthony to meet with Bulls first, but Knicks still viewed as favorites

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony has plans to meet with numerous teams in free agency, but the Knicks reportedly are still the favorites to sign him.

Anthony is scheduled to first meet with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, then the Rockets and Mavericks Wednesday, and the Lakers on Thursday.

Despite the planned meetings, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger says the Knicks are viewed as the favorites to retain the offensive machine.

If there’s one team the Knicks should be concerned about, it’s probably Chicago. Bulls defensive star Joakim Noah has been recruiting ‘Melo since the All-Star break, while coach Tom Thibodeau has also expressed interest in the forward.

‘Melo does not have a meeting scheduled with the Miami Heat, but they should not be discounted as a possibility. Pat Riley will try to convince Anthony to join the team on a reduced deal. You can bet on that.

Phil Jackson: Carmelo Anthony is ‘good for what his word is’

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony has notified the Knicks that he is opting out of the final year of his contract, but that does not mean he won’t be back in New York. Anthony has openly stated that he likes Phil Jackson’s plan for the future of the Knicks. Does that mean he is going to stick around to see if Jackson can work his magic?

Earlier this week, Jackson said he expects Anthony to be back with the Knicks next season. Why? Because Carmelo gave Phil his word.

“We don’t know what all that means,” Jackson told ESPNNewYork’com’s Young Misuk when asked about Anthony’s decision to opt out. “But we have every confidence that Carmelo is good for what his word is, that he wants to be in New York, he likes playing in New York, he wants to compete, he wants to be part of a playoff team that is competitive toward a championship.

If you remember, Anthony said over the winter that he would be willing to take a pay cut to help the Knicks sign key free agents. Does that mean he will now pass up the opportunity to sign a max contract to give New York more flexibility? Jackson sounds like he is banking on it.

“When I take his word, he’s the one who opened that up, that it wasn’t about the money,” Jackson said. “So I challenged him on that, because I wanted our fans to see he’s a team player, that he was going to do what’s best to get our team ahead farther and faster.”

Carmelo is going to receive tantalizing pitches from quality teams like the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks once free agency begins on July 1. He could end up remaining in New York, but I highly doubt he’s going to do it at a discounted rate.

Tom Thibodeau reportedly pushing to bring Carmelo Anthony to Bulls

Carmelo Anthony glazed donut face

Carmelo Anthony is widely expected to opt out of his contract Monday and become a free agent. The Chicago Bulls are said to be one of the teams he’s most strongly considering, and it sounds like the interest from the Bulls is equally strong.

In fact, reports say Tom Thibodeau, who is not exactly a rah-rah kind of coach, has been actively recruiting ‘Melo.

The Chicago Sun-Times says Thibodeau has used back channels to express to Anthony what he thinks the forward could do for the team. Thibs also reportedly has been doing his homework by calling many of Anthony’s former coaches.

The obvious question about ‘Melo joining the Bulls is whether he’ll fit in with the team’s defense. Thibodeau relies upon strong and active defense from his players; ‘Melo doesn’t always give the best effort on that end of the floor. Thibodeau reportedly believes he can get Anthony to do what they need.

In addition to Thibodeau, Joakim Noah reportedly has been working hard since the All-Star break to convince ‘Melo to join the team. Given all the reports coming from Chicago, nobody should be surprised if Chicago lands the Knicks star.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Carmelo Anthony: Meeting with Phil Jackson was ‘great’

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony is expected to test the free agency market next month, but it sounds like re-signing with the New York Knicks may be a consideration.

Anthony was in New York to promote SMS Audio’s Sport Collection of waterproof headphones with 50 Cent, his partner. At the event, he told the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola that his meeting with Phil Jackson last week went great.

“It was a great meeting with Phil. It went well,” he said via the Daily News. “I like what Phil is doing.”

The move he likes is that Jackson hired Derek Fisher as head coach. Maybe Jackson shared his ideas of future plans as well.

I still think Anthony is going to leave the Knicks because they seem far away from winning, but at least they might have a fighting chance if these words are any indication.

Heat talking about adding Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony KnicksThe Miami Heat have aspirations of adding even more superstar power to their already talented roster. According to ESPN, the Heat have had talks about adding Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony, like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, can become a free agent this summer if he opts out of the final year of his contract. We previously told you that LeBron is interested in playing with Carmelo, and this new report supports that.

The report says Heat officials and team leaders have already begun talking about their options to create enough financial flexibility to make this foursome happen. Another key factor here is that some of the star players, like LeBron, are doing well enough with their investments or endorsements where they feel they can make up for the pay cut through other channels.

Sources say internal conversations within the Heat organization about pursuing this course have run concurrently with Miami’s bid to win a third consecutive championship, with sources adding that James in particular is likely to try to recoup potential salary sacrificed through fresh off-court business opportunities if the Heat’s new dream scenario does come to fruition.

ESPN also notes that LeBron stood to earn about $30 million from the Beats by Dre deal with Apple. LeBron got a small stake in the company in 2008 in exchange for promoting the headphones, and he is cashing in now that they were acquired for $3 billion.

This chatter is also nothing new according to SI’s Chris Mannix:

USA Today’s Sam Amick believes Wade’s health issues are more reasons why LeBron would want ‘Melo:

I really think they can make this happen. Bosh has said he wants to stay in Miami and would be willing to take less. LeBron is not leaving Miami and would probably take less in order to give himself a chance at winning more, which is his top priority. The only questions are if Wade is unselfish enough to go along and realize his limitations because of his age and body, and whether ‘Melo would take less, too.

Pat Riley can definitely make it all happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

LeBron James reportedly ‘interested’ in playing with Carmelo Anthony

LeBron-James-Carmelo-AnthonyLeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are close friends. That famous photo of the two superstars playing high school ball against each other shows how far back they go, but is there any way they could ever be teammates? Apparently that is something that interests LeBron.

Sam Amick of USA Today, who reported earlier this week that the Los Angeles Lakers are delaying their coaching search to appeal to free agents like LeBron and ‘Melo, noted that James is still “interested” in playing with Anthony at some point in his career.

Yet according to two people with knowledge of the situation, Anthony’s part in this fluid free agency situation is worth monitoring as James is known to be interested in eventually playing with his close friend. Anthony also has a player option on his deal for next season (worth $23.5 million), and his connection to James has teams like the Lakers, Knicks and even the Heat wondering whether he may be able to join the four-time NBA MVP. The people requested anonymity because of sensitive nature of free agency talk.

Unless an offseason rule change allows for two basketballs to be on the court at the same time during games, there’s no way LeBron, ‘Melo and Kobe Bryant are going to be teammates. Forget the salary cap implications. That just doesn’t make sense and is not going to happen.

LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts after this season, so there is room for the Heat to do some number shifting if they decided they wanted to make a run at Anthony. Still, it seems unlikely.

The most *likely* scenario (which isn’t likely at all) is that LeBron winds up with the New York Knicks if he leaves Miami. He could stick with his current contract for next season and sign with New York when Amar’e Stoudemire and a few others are cleared off the books in 2015, but it would be a shock if that came to fruition. Yes, even with Phil Jackson pulling the strings.

Bottom line — why would LeBron leave Pat Riley? Since joining the Heat, Riley has provided James with the supporting cast he needs to reach the NBA Finals each season. There’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to do that. LeBron has already won two championships in Miami and could have a third within weeks. He’s carving out his own legacy just like Kobe has with the Lakers and Michael Joordan did with the Bulls. Leaving would make no sense.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Carmelo Anthony reportedly meets with his crew to discuss free agent future

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony has not given a definite answer on whether he will opt out of his current contract with the New York Knicks, but we would all be shocked if he didn’t. Even if he decided to remain in New York, opting out would allow Anthony to sign a new deal with more years and more money. Who wouldn’t want that?

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Carmelo met with his agent, advisor and some other members of his entourage on Friday night to discuss his future as a free agent. Some would say the Knicks have an advantage in talks with Carmelo, as they can offer five years and around $130 million while other teams can offer a four-year, $96 million deal. But will New York make a max offer?

Phil Jackson indicated earlier this offseason that the team will need Anthony to take less than he is entitled to in order to give the Knicks flexibility to add other pieces. Carmelo also said he would take a pay cut to help New York sign other free agents, but that was before Jackson missed out on his top coaching target in Steve Kerr. Anthony might be worried about Jackson’s ability to recruit top free agents if he couldn’t even get his protege on board.

As Berman noted, the Knicks may still have the advantage on Anthony by default. The Houston Rockets — one potential destination for Carmelo — would need to move both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to make room for ‘Melo. The Chicago Bulls would have to get rid of Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. That type of roster maneuvering would be extremely difficult.

I’m sure part of Carmelo wants to finish what he started in New York and prove he can bring a championship to his hometown. The other part of him just wants to win a championship in general. Does he trust that Jackson will be able to bring in the right head coach and fill out the roster with championship-caliber players? We’ll find out soon enough.

H/T SI Wire