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Knicks’ money talks in Carmelo Anthony derby

The Bulls’ prospects getting Carmelo Anthony same front line with Joakim Noah (right) seem have run out steam. | AP

The Bulls’ prospects of getting Carmelo Anthony on the same front line with Joakim Noah (right) seem to have run out of steam. | AP

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Updated: August 7, 2014 6:54AM

The Bulls made a heck of an ­effort.

They marched out their core in Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose, lit up the scoreboard with an image of Carmelo Anthony in Bulls’ home whites and wined and dined the seven-time All-Star so he could get a small glimpse of what life would be like in Chicago.’

But according to several reports Saturday, the idea of Anthony signing with the Bulls is just about running on fumes.

Bulls sources were mum on any Anthony talk, but they have taken notice of the reports coming out of New York that Anthony is expected to accept the Knicks’ five-year,
$129 million contract offer by Monday. According to the Daily News, the one stumbling block is that Anthony is holding out hope that good friend LeBron James can find the two a place where the money is good and they can run together.

It seems unlikely that, with James seeking a max contract and Anthony wanting close to the max, enough parts could be found around the two to make a serious run at the champion San Antonio Spurs.

The Bulls are holding on to the belief that their pitch was the best of the four teams that didn’t have Phil Jackson as team president — and that they have “yet to hear no.’’

In fact, they haven’t heard much from Anthony since he met with the Knicks in Los Angeles last week.

The hope is that will change by Monday, so at least the Bulls can move forward with Plan B in case of bad news. They met with free-agent big man Pau Gasol in Los Angeles on Thursday and have started very preliminary talks with the No. 23 pick from the 2011 NBA draft, European standout Nikola Mirotic.

The team purposely is dragging its feet on the 6-10 stretch four so it can give Anthony as much time as possible to make his decision.

If Anthony flips the switch on popular opinion and decides to sign with the Bulls as a free agent — especially because attempts at a sign-and-trade have been turned down — the rights to Mirotic likely would have to be shopped, especially if Mirotic’s days with Real Madrid have ended as badly as reported and the NBA is his only option.

The team also would look to move Mike Dunleavy and the $3 million he has coming, which could get the first year of Anthony’s deal near the $14 million-$15 million range. That figure is nowhere near what the Knicks can do, but is all the Bulls can muster with Rose set to make $18.8 million during the 2014-15 season, Noah $12.2 million and Gibson $8 million.

If Anthony does the seemingly inevitable and grabs the $129 million from the Knicks, start the debate on his integrity.

In February, Anthony told ESPN, “I’m going to make money. I have money. I’m good if I want to retire right now. As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me.

“My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career.’’

He can do that right away with the Bulls. Even if Jackson did his best Zen-like sales job, nothing is promised with the Knicks after the 2015 season — and owner James Dolan has a history of messing things up, no matter the circumstances.

Either way, the Bulls simply are waiting.


Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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