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Bulls encouraged by Carmelo Anthony’s indecision

Updated: July 8, 2014 2:37PM



No news essentially was good news for the Bulls on Monday. Carmelo Anthony’s indecisiveness seemed to indicate that all the momentum that had him heading back to the New York Knicks has hit some obstacles.

That’s a good thing.

“We still haven’t heard no,’’ a team source said Monday evening.

But neither have the Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, as Anthony seems torn on the idea of max money in New York and Los Angeles or playing for an instant contender in the Bulls.

That instant contender would cost him about $54 million because the Bulls have a four-year, $75 million offer on the table.

On the surface, it appears to be a five-team race, but it really isn’t. It’s Knicks, Lakers and Bulls, in that order. The Rockets have aggressively moved on to Plan B, trying to lure Chris Bosh from the Miami Heat for a max deal. The Mavericks were given only a few hours of Anthony’s time last week during his visit and didn’t make much of an impression.

So why the holdup?

Anthony must be weighing the decision carefully, but there’s also the LeBron James effect.

Four years later, James still is messing with Bulls business. That’s what you call staying power.

The latest is that James finally will meet face-to-face with Heat president Pat Riley in the next few days to hear a final pitch. The pot was sweetened Monday, when Riley landed verbal commitments from free agents Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.

So why does that mess with the Bulls?

Everything James does affects league business these days. Despite the Bulls losing momentum in the Anthony sweepstakes, the feeling was he would only need the weekend to make a decision. With James undecided and Bosh being courted heavily by the Rockets, the idea of James and Anthony — who are good friends — playing for the same team isn’t entirely dead.

That’s bad news for the Bulls on several fronts, with the obvious being the inability to become fully vested in Plan B. They have started taking steps toward moving on without Anthony, as indicated by talks with Nikola Mirotic, the visit to free agent Pau Gasol and numerous calls on players such as Chandler Parsons, Shawn Marion and Trevor Ariza. But until the Bulls are given a “not happening” by Anthony, they are playing their hand slowly.

A source said that several more free agents were contacted, but the message is the same: The Bulls are interested, but give them a few days.

And as far as the idea of Lance Stephenson to the Bulls, a call was made last week just to check in. According to sources, Stephenson priced himself at $10 million per year, which the Bulls are reluctant to pay.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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