These are the facts, presented (at first!) without any additional opinion:
Stephen A. Smith went on the Carmen and Jurko Show on ESPN 1000 and said he was told by a source close to Carmelo Anthony that the free agent forward is having second thoughts about going back to the Knicks. Specifically, he is still considering joining the Bulls. You can listen to the interview here starting around the 19 minute mark.
Smith prefaces the report by saying he's believed all along in two scenarios: a) that Melo would return to the Knicks,or b) he would go to Miami to team up with LeBron James. However, Smith's source had a different read on Melo's situation. Here's the transcription:
Yesterday at approximately 5 p.m., the day after I was on ESPN Chicago, I got a call.
"Look, something has come up. Something is in the mix. Melo is having second thoughts, and this is what it is: CHICAGO. Suddenly Chicago is on his mind."
And this is someone who is incredibly close to Carmelo Anthony who I completely trust as a source. Couldn't explain why. But just said Chicago is not out of the mix.
"Believe what you want. Melo is chilling at home with his wife, his family, and he's talking about the Chicago Bulls."
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald has since corroborated the report and added that Tom Thibodeau is following up with Carmelo to try to bring him to Chicago:
Hearing Tom Thibodeau is playing a major role in keeping Carmelo Anthony interested in Bulls.— Mike McGraw (@McGrawDHBulls) July 10, 2014
Hell yes, Thibs. This makes me very happy and I deeply hope it is true.
SO: what do we make of this? Smith isn't the most respected reporter around, but he does seem to have close ties to stars around the league. He was the first person to report the possibility of LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces in Miami in 2010, and when he first said it, he caught a pretty serious backlash.
Is there any chance Melo is using the Bulls as leverage against the Knicks? There sure is. Seth Rosenthal detailed Phil Jackson's pursuit of Anthony today at Posting and Toasting. Apparently Jackson has made five different offers to Melo. This sounds bizarre at first, but remember that Jackson has been publicly urging Melo to take less than the max for months. By making five offers, he's telling Melo he'll pay him the max if need be, but here are the other moves our team can make if you accept slightly less money:
Of course, this all comes on the heels of Frank Isola's report that Melo has made up his mind to return to New York. Isola said that decision would be made Thursday (today), but there has yet to be any announcement.
According to Ken Berger, the Bulls haven't heard anything either way:
Carmelo Anthony's intentions have not been communicated to the Bulls, source says. But Chicago has cap-clearing moves teed up.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2014
Bulls ain't dead yet, it looks like. Go get him, Thibs.
The Bulls are still under consideration for Carmelo Anthony, a person familiar with his thinking tells @CBSSports.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2014