Chicago Can't Offer Anywhere Near As Much, But Has Several Pieces In Place

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — What’s it going to be, Melo?

Carmelo Anthony is expected to make his decision in free agency this week — perhaps as soon as Monday. He visited Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles this week, and has received a maximum offer to return to New York.

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Anthony has narrowed his choices down to the Knicks, Lakers and Bulls, but is “torn” over what to do, according to a report in the Daily News. The Knicks offered Anthony a five-year, $129 million deal. Other teams can give the seven-time All-Star four years and $96 million at most.

But, the newspaper reported, the Bulls, despite only being able to offer around $15 million per season, remain the wildcard because they appear to give the former scoring champion the best chance to win now, something Anthony has intimated is more important than the money.

Yahoo Sports reported Friday that Anthony was “largely aligned” with the vision of Knicks president Phil Jackson after the sides met on Thursday. But reports also surfaced that Los Angeles was gaining ground and should be considered serious contenders.

To add to the intrigue, an assistant coach and an executive at UCLA tweeted that Anthony was playing hoops on campus Sunday with Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Minnesota’s Kevin Love, who is expected to be a hot commodity on the trade market. The three players live in the L.A. area and were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team two years ago.

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Some reports said Love wasn’t involved in the pickup game.

“I have no idea (about the game),” UCLA head coach Steve Alford said, according to the New York Post. “You have to call someone else.”

Anthony, 30, said prior to opting out of his contract with the Knicks that money wouldn’t be the deciding factor in where he ends up next season. He said he wanted assurances that he’d be playing for a contender.

Initially, it was believed that if he stayed with the Knicks, who traded for him in 2011, he’d likely have to wait out a rebuilding period. Jackson had publicly asked Anthony to stick to his word and take less to return to the Knicks.

“I want to come back. I also want to win. Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever, five years, the contract would be, then I’m willing to stay here,” Anthony said in April.

And According to the Wall Street Journal, during free agency Jackson has “continued to preach the virtues of taking less than the maximum — a message that left Anthony questioning whether the max offer was sincere.”

But on Monday a report surfaced that said Jackson was trying to trade Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani to free up the cap space needed to give Anthony a star to play with this upcoming season.

Anthony missed the playoffs for the first time in his career this past season.

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