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Carmelo Anthony opting out of contract — is he headed to Bulls?

Updated: June 23, 2014 11:36AM



Insiders long have indicated that Carmelo Anthony wanted a chance to go through free agency, and the seven-time All-Star is about to get his way.

Multiple media outlets reported Sunday that Anthony already has informed the New York Knicks he is opting out of his contract to test free agency. The news comes as no surprise, even though Knicks president Phil Jackson was hoping Anthony would opt in for the final season of his deal, giving the team a chance to carry out its rebuilding plan with him on board.

Anthony’s decision doesn’t mean he won’t return to the Knicks, but it will do a number on their anticipated salary-cap windfall next offseason if he does re-sign.

What it means for the rest of the league is the Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks will start the process of trying to land Anthony. For the Bulls, that means acquiring Anthony in a sign-and-trade that includes the expiring contract of forward Carlos Boozer — a long shot — or signing him as a free agent.

Even if the Bulls exercise the amnesty provision on Boozer, that will give them only $11 million to $12 million in salary-cap space. If they get creative with a few contracts, maybe they can free up $14 million. Basically, the Bulls would hope Anthony would be willing to leave at least $60 million on the table by not re-signing with the Knicks.

The good news for the Bulls is that Anthony has been doing his homework about living in Chicago and playing for coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau, meanwhile, has been talking with some of Anthony’s former coaches.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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