Report: ‘Melo narrowing list of teams he’ll talk to as free agent

Now that Carmelo Anthony has opted out of his contract with the Knicks, the focus has already shifted to where he may play beginning next season.

And the seven-time All-Star and his camp are apparently wasting no time in gearing up for July 1, when Anthony can begin negotiating with teams, already finalizing the list of teams which will be given the honor of selling themselves to ‘Melo.

And if the names obtained by ESPN prove to be correct, some teams on that list may surprise a lot of people.

On Monday, Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, told The Associated Press, "Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and the fans. At this stage of his career he just wants to explore his options."

Good thing Rose didn’t say Anthony wants to be on a winner, because here is the short list of "the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to [Anthony]."

• Chicago Bulls

• Dallas Mavericks

• Houston Rockets

• Los Angeles Lakers

Yup, the Lakers. And with respect to winners believed to be in the ‘Melo market, isn’t there another, more southern beach team missing?

Don’t worry, Miami:

 

"Sources told ESPN.com that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are two more teams that could join the race for Anthony, depending on how things play out before, during and after Thursday’s NBA draft."

Most pundits have pointed to Chicago as the most likely landing spot for Anthony, while the Rockets have been attempting to clear additional salary-cap space to pay Anthony more money. The report said that the Lakers have plenty of cap room, but will need to improve their roster before Anthony would "seriously consider" teaming with Kobe Bryant, while Dallas also has Dirk Nowitzki headed to free agency — and even the German big man put the Mavs’ chances at landing Anthony at "not really" realistic.

And there are the Knicks. New York’s roster is perhaps the weakest in the mix, but Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher & Co. have the advantage of offering one year and at least $33 million more than any other team.

Also on Monday, Vice Sports released a sit-down interview with Anthony, taped earlier this month before he opted out.

In it, Anthony sounded like someone not exactly in a hurry to run away from the Big Apple.

• "Playing in a small market, you only can go so high as far as individual players go," Anthony said. ". . . So when you go to places like New York, you’re there, you’re playing and you’re there for two nights, you feel the excitement. You feel the difference. The energy is different, the fans are different, the game is different, playing in New York."

• "The average person just sees opportunity to say that, ‘Oh, ‘Melo should go here, ‘Melo should go there. I think he should do this, I think he should do that.’ But they don’t take into consideration the family aspect of it. Your livelihood. Where you’re going to be living at and do you want your kids to grow up in that place and that city."

• "My son goes to school [in New York]. He loves it here."

The Knicks went 37-45 last season and missed the playoffs. After the season, they brought in Jackson as president, and he subsequently fired head coach Mike Woodson and replaced him with Fisher. The Knicks are up against the cap this season and could not realistically make serious upgrades to the roster until a year from now.

—The Associated Press contributed to this story