The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are the early frontrunners to land New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who plans to opt out of his contract, according to Yahoo Sports.
Anthony has until June 23 to either opt in or out of the final year of his deal with the Knicks. Team president Phil Jackson has lobbied for Anthony to delay free agency for another season but Anthony reportedly intends to opt out and become a free agent in July.
Jackson met with Anthony on Thursday in an effort to persuade him to stay with the Knicks. New York missed the playoffs this past season. Jackson, who recently took over as president, is trying to convince Anthony that the team can turn around its fortunes.
Anthony reportedly wants to play for a championship contender. The Bulls and Rockets reportedly will look to clear enough salary cap space to pursue Anthony.
If the cap is set at about $62 million for next season as projected, the Bulls would need to cut roughly $20 million to sign Anthony. Using the amnesty clause on power forward Carlos Boozer would slice $16 million, according to ShamSports.com. They would also need to part with at least one of their own free agents, including guards D.J. Augustin, Jimmer Fredette and Kirk Hinrich. Forward Mike Dunleavy’s $3.3 million contract is also a possible option for cutting salary.
The Rockets would have a tougher time making room for Anthony. They already have more than $62 million committed to the cap for next season. Guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik have expiring contracts and could be part of trade package — including draft picks — as one option. The team would also have to find a way to keep point guard Patrick Beverley and power forwards Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons to salvage some depth on the roster.
The Knicks can offer Anthony a free agent deal for up to five years and nearly $130 million. The most other teams can offer Anthony is four years and nearly $96 million.