Everyone’s waiting for free agency to begin on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EST. None more so than the Chicago Bulls, who are expected to host Carmelo Anthony first thing, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein. Aside from the Knicks — who can offer Anthony the most money, the Bulls have been rumored to hold the inside track for ‘Melo’s services.
Story going online now: ESPN sources say Melo meets with Bulls on Tuesday on Day 1 of free agency, then Rockets & Mavs in Texas on Wednesday
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 30, 2014
Sources tell ESPN Anthony is planning a trip to Chicago before making a Texas swing to meet with the Rockets and the Mavericks.
Sources told ESPN.com that Anthony is in the process of arranging a trip to Chicago to meet with the Bulls, then intends to travel to Texas for Wednesday meetings with both the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks.
Sources say Anthony is likely to visit the Rockets first on Wednesday, followed by the Mavericks in the afternoon.
The Bulls have always seemed like the logical choice to persuade Anthony to leave the extra $33 million on the table in New York. With Joakim Noah purportedly recruiting Anthony from as far back as the all-star break, and head coach Tom Thibodeau working through back channels, the Bulls offer Anthony the clearest path — with the best supporting teammates, through the weaker Eastern Conference — to an NBA Finals appearance.
Then again, oft-injured point guard Derrick Rose won’t play the free agency wooing game this summer, reportedly saying, it’s “not his job,” and “my thing is if they want to come, they can come.”
There are a community of teams interested in the 6-8 forward’s scoring punch, and some of their stars might be willing to recuit unlike Rose. Both Texas teams, including a Mavs team with his Knicks defensive bulwark in the middle, Tyson Chandler, now back where he won a title in 2011. The Rockets have already dealt Omer Asik to the Pelicans in order to free up some space, and will likely move Jeremy Lin as well if they get a verbal commitment from Anthony.
That’s forgetting Los Angeles, where Anthony keeps a summer home and where he’s likely meet with the Lakers face-to-face next week, according to Stein.
The Suns have recently become a player in the Anthony sweepstakes, particularly considering their cap situation; they’re the only team who can offer Anthony and good friend LeBron James maximum contracts this summer without sacrificing a core of players that won 48 games in a more difficult Western Conference this past season.
But people within the Knicks remain confident they can re-sign Anthony despite the growing list of suitors who will make their pitches to him next week. Sources say Phil Jackson’s trade sending Chandler to Dallas in exchange for Spanish point guard, Jose Calderon, was aimed at ‘Melo. The Knicks are also looking to sign Pau Gasol in free agency this summer to augment the team around ‘Melo.
While Jackson claims he’ll ask him to do so when the time comes, sources tell Stein the Knicks feel better about re-signing Anthony than Jackson is letting on. Jackson might claim he’ll ask Anthony to put his money where his mouth is, but he could be willing to give him the full five-year $129 million, which is $33 million more and a year extra over any other team.
Who is leading the ‘Melo sweepstakes heading into the first day of free agency?
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