By David Schuster-

(CBS) The Carmelo Anthony-to-Chicago sentiment is heating up, as all early signs continue to point to the Bulls being the favorite to land the high-scoring forward after he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks.

Anthony will now hit the free agency trail on July 1, and even though the Bulls aren’t allowed to speak with Anthony until then (and vice versa), conversations have been going on through back-door channels to indicate that an upcoming marriage is more then feasible.

The Bulls have been doing their due diligence on Anthony, reportedly contacting numerous former coaches of his to better gauge what kind of player they would be getting — not only on the court, but off it as well. If you know the Bulls organization, then you know how important this is to them.

But Anthony has also been doing his own investigative work. He has reportedly contacted current and former players who have played for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and has also checked with prominent Chicagoans to see what it’s like to be famous in the Windy City. Ironically, Anthony ran into Scottie Pippen while on vacation this past week in Paris, and you can bet that he got an earful from Pippen, who is an ambassador for the Bulls.

There are two ways for Anthony to make the move from New York to Chicago. The first is by being signed with outright cap space, in which the Bulls can only get up to around $17 million for the first season if they trade a few pieces and a draft pick while choosing to hang onto Taj Gibson, with more for the following three years.

The second way would be via a sign-and-trade deal with New York, where Phil Jackson is now in control. If Jackson truly believe Anthony wants out, he’ll try and get something for him. The Bulls and Rockets seem to be the two best teams to pull off a deal, and in John Paxson, Jackson has a trading partner who he remains very close to. Paxson will lobby for Carlos Boozer and his expiring contract ($16.8 million) to be part of any deal. Jackson will — and reportedly already has — balked at this, but the logic is for New York to take that expiring deal and turn it into salary cap relief for next summer when the Knicks can be big players in free agency.

Paxson and Gar Forman are trying to have their cake and eat it too by acquiring Anthony while keeping the rest of the core intact — and that means not having Gibson part of any deal.

As mentioned off the bat, the outlook is good for Anthony becoming a Bull, but if you’ve heard stories like this in the past you know there’s no such animal as a “sure thing” when it comes to the Bulls.

Too often in the past it looked like the Bulls would be the big winners in free agency, only to get the consolation prize.

So if you come across that “lucky penny” that Jerry Krause used to have, send it to Paxson and Forman because they might need it to be big winners over the next few weeks.

David Schuster is the Bulls on-air reporter for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @Schumouse.

Watch & Listen LIVE