(CBS) The Bulls may have swung for the fences and missed with their primary offseason target.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony will return to the Knicks “barring a last minute change of heart,” New York Daily News writer Frank Isola reported Wednesday afternoon, citing a friend close to Anthony.
An official announcement is expected to come Thursday, Isola wrote. Free agents can begin signing contracts then.
Still, as of late Wednesday, this situation lacked clarity.
Reports indicated Anthony hadn’t informed the Knicks of his decision. The Bulls also hadn’t been informed that were out of the picture.
Knicks have no reason to believe Anthony is going anywhere but New York, source says. Team just has not been told of decision.—
Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 09, 2014
FWIW, and obviously a fluid story, but Bulls haven't been told they're not getting Carmelo Anthony as of yet.—
K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 09, 2014
Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, later told ESPN that Anthony remains uncertain about his future.
New York was long considered the favorite for the 30-year-old Anthony, as it could offer the most money — and did last week, reportedly putting a maximum contract of five years and $129 million on the table. The Lakers also reportedly offered a max deal, theirs coming in at four years and $96.
Short on salary cap space, the Bulls couldn’t come close to matching such money, with their deal centering around an offer of four years, $73 million, the Chicago Tribune reported. The only way for Chicago to come close to max money was through a sign-and-trade, but Anthony’s affinity for the New York stage, respect for team president Phil Jackson and more financial security appears to have won out.
Within Anthony's circle, belief's been this, sources tell Y: Get NY's $129M now, figure out destination later. You can always get a trade.—
Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 09, 2014
In their meeting with Anthony on July 1, the Bulls pitched the idea of the star scorer being the missing piece in their championship chase.
The Bulls can still turn their attention to big man Pau Gasol in free agency. They met with him late last week in Los Angeles, and he’s also drawn serious interest from the Thunder.
Chicago also intends to bring Spanish League star Nikola Mirotic over from Real Madrid, and it is searching for another wing and a backup point guard as well.