Carmelo Anthony Bulls rumors: Anthony to opt-out, 'leaning towards' leaving New York

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Bulls and Rockets the frontrunners.

In the past few days there were rumblings that the Knicks plan was to try and convince Carmelo Anthony to opt-in to the final year of his contract, giving each time in deferring free agency a season.

It doesn't appear to have worked, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!:

As re-signing with the Knicks continues to fade as his priority, Chicago and Houston have emerged as the clear frontrunners to acquire Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Anthony's meeting with Knicks officials on Friday night had little impact on his state of mind, league sources said, because there remain too many uncertainties about how quickly president Phil Jackson can reshape the team into a championship contender.

The Knicks can still re-sign him to a mega-deal even after Anthony opts out. Though while it sounds like 'contention' is Anthony's priority, but he also wants to get paid:

Chicago and Houston front-office executives are working diligently on contingencies to clear the space to sign Anthony outright – or engage sign-and-trade scenarios with New York, sources said.

...

For Chicago to make its bid for Anthony, it will need to amnesty the contract of Carlos Boozer and unload forward Taj Gibson and at least one more player.

What's interesting is that while Woj points out that the Rockets have intriguing sign/trade assets in Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin because they're expiring contracts, he doesn't suggest Carlos Boozer in a similar capacity. It might be because Boozer has negative trade value, whereas the Knicks could actually welcome Asik and/or Lin as players for a season. KC Johnson has said the Bulls preference is to trade Boozer in a Melo acquisition, because of course it is.

I don't quite buy KC Johnson's assertion that the Bulls are 'scarred' by having to deal Kirk Hinrich in the summer of 2010 for that free-agency run. Getting Hinrich off the books was far far far down the list of disappointments that summer, and given his contract  could almost have been seen as a positive...they may feel differently internally, of course. Trading Taj away in a failed FA bid would be pretty bad (Taj is more valuable than 2010 Hinrich), but you'd think they could do so in July knowing whether or not Anthony was coming up-front.

This latest report implies Melo is 'willing to take less', but given the other language about teams needing to clear cap space he isn't a substantial pay-cut. There was a report a few days ago that he may be willing to do that if it meant going to Miami.

I'm just happy about the use of the phrase "working diligently on contingencies" when it comes to the Bulls. Often I doubt they even have that in them.

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