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Carmelo Anthony headed back to Knicks — report

Updated: July 9, 2014 7:46PM



So it’s on to Plan B for the Bulls?

According to the New York Daily News, Carmelo Anthony will return to the Knicks. The newspaper quoted a person close to the seven-time All-Star who said Anthony’s deciding factors were the influence of new team president Phil Jackson and the comfort of his family.

“He will have something for everybody on Thursday,” the friend told the Daily News. “He is really torn because this is the biggest decision of his career. But he wants to get it done in New York. He told me he believes in Phil.”

Thursday is the first day players can sign their contracts, and it’s believed Anthony will sign for the maximum deal the Knicks can offer — five years, $129 million.

The Los Angeles Lakers were offering a four-year max contract for $96 million, while a source said the Bulls were offering four years for $75 million with a player option for the final season.

But if Anthony had made up his mind, that was news to the Bulls. According to a source, they hadn’t been notified one way or the other as of Wednesday evening.

If Anthony returns to the Knicks, it will be a huge disappointment for the Bulls, who were highly fixated on adding an elite scorer this offseason. However, it would allow them to switch their focus to Lakers free agent Pau Gasol and come to an agreement with 2011 draft acquisition Nikola Mirotic.

All Bulls business had been on hold as the team awaited for a decision from Anthony. The concern was that if Anthony chose the Lakers, Gasol would re-sign.

The Bulls, Spurs, Thunder, Heat and Knicks had been talked about as destinations for Gasol, but there was growing momentum the last few days that Gasol’s meeting with the Bulls last week in Los Angeles had some staying power.

That could be tested.

The Anthony news also figures to get the dominos falling, even with everyone awaiting LeBron James’ decision.

James met with Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday in Las Vegas, but the real action happened earlier in the day when the Cavaliers showed just how serious they were about bringing the Akron native home again.

In a three-team trade, the Cavs created enough salary-cap space to offer James a max deal, moving Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Tyler Zeller and a protected 2016 first-round pick. They also have shown interest in James favorites Mike Miller and Ray Allen.

Bulls players hardly flinched when asked about the Cavs being a threat after they acquired Luol Deng in January simply because they didn’t believe there was enough there for Deng to work with. But James going back to the Cavs?

“They’d be instant contenders in the East,” a Bulls source said.

As for the Knicks, Jackson likely had to sell Anthony on what they could be beyond this season because payroll constraints have them tied up with bad contracts for at least another year.

The Bulls’ front office tried hammering that point to Anthony in their meeting with him last week in Chicago, especially in the wake of comments from February that Anthony made to ESPN in which he insisted, “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. I want to compete at that level.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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