New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony reportedly is leaning toward free agency with an eye on either Chicago or Houston, according to a Yahoo Sports report.
League sources have told Yahoo Sports / Fox Sports 1’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the 30-year-old Knicks star "is leaning toward leaving in pursuit of immediate championship contention, and awaits the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign him in free agency."
This comes despite Knicks’ efforts to keep Anthony in New York, where team president Phil Jackson has publicly declared his intentions to pursuade the seven-time NBA all-star to stay. But a meeting on Friday night with Jackson, new head coach Derek Fisher and owner James Dolan did little to sway Anthony’s plans because it wasn’t clear how quickly Jackson could reshape the team into a title contender, Yahoo Sports cited league sources as saying.
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"His heart is in New York," a source told Yahoo Sports, "but he wants a chance to win now."
Earlier reports presented the possiblity of Anthony carving out space in Miami, though the Heat’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would all have to opt out of their contracts and re-sign for less money.
Plus, "If that happens, it’d be a travesty for the game," noted Heat detractor Charles Barkley told the Starters. "I don’t understand why these guys are afraid to compete against each other. That’s what sports are — a competition."
Anthony has reportedly been interested in joining the Bulls for a while, but "it will need to amnesty the contract of Carlos Boozer and unload forward Taj Gibson and at least one more player," Yahoo Sports reported.
The Houston Rockets, however, "need to shed the contracts of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to clear most of the space to sign Anthony to a max contract. Because those players are moving into the expiring year of their contracts, they could potentially appeal to New York in sign-and-trade scenarios that would deliver Anthony his full max contract of four years, $90 million-plus."
If Anthony opts out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks, he will become an unrestricted agent on July 1.