(CBS) Star free agent Carmelo Anthony met with the Lakers and Knicks on Thursday in Los Angeles, and both teams have told him they’ll offer maximum contracts, according to ESPN.com.
The Knicks can offer a five-year, $129-million contract. The Lakers, like all the other suitors with ample cap space, can offer Anthony a four-year, $96-million deal.
On Wednesday, Anthony met with the Rockets and Mavericks in Texas. He had about a nine-hour meeting with the Bulls on Tuesday in Chicago. The Bulls’ challenge is that they can’t match the money other teams are offering Anthony unless they trade Taj Gibson, further gut their team and likely give up the flexibility to sign Spanish League star Nikola Mirotic this offseason.
If Chicago used the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer and traded Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler, it could offer Anthony a contract beginning around $16 million-$17 million next season. If the Bulls used the amnesty provision on Boozer and traded Gibson and either Butler or Dunleavy, they could get close to offering a max or near-max deal, but they view Gibson as part of their core along with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Anthony can command a deal starting at $22.5 million next season.
A sign-and-trade would be beneficial for Chicago, as would retain its mid-level exception by remaining over the salary cap, but New York has shown no willingness to engage in such a deal to date.
Anthony has moved quickly here early in the free agent process, and several reports Thursday afternoon indicated he’ll make a decision by weekend’s end.
The general consensus is that the Knicks remain the favorites, but as always, this will come down to Anthony’s desire for money weighed against his desire to chase championships.