Anthony expected to announce his decision at some stage this week.
The Chicago Bulls are still reportedly in contention to sign New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony despite suggestions the Los Angeles Lakers had surpassed them, the New York Daily News reports.
The 30-year-old is in the process of making his decision after meeting with the Bulls, Knicks, Lakers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks last week, with the Knicks understood to be favourites to re-sign him.
However, the attraction of playing in a similarly big market, to stay in the Eastern Conference and to join a ready-made contending team have all played in Chicago’s advantage despite their inability to compete financially.
Unless the Bulls are able to secure a sign-and-trade deal, they can offer $75m over four years which is in comparison to the Knicks offering $129m over five years while the Lakers can also offer Anthony a maximum contract of $96m over four years.
Given that Anthony lives in Los Angeles during the off-season and has a long-lasting friendship with Kobe Bryant, the Lakers remain an intriguing option for him, but whether or not that duo combined with Pau Gasol is capable of really competing in the Western Conference remains to be seen.
Melo has previously insisted that his family is well settled in New York and that he loves playing for the Knicks, particularly at Madison Square Garden, which all results in him being open to accepting a pay cut if it helps team president Phil Jackson build a competitive roster for next season.
While that process is already underway following the trade deal which sent Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks are still limited this summer given the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani.
If Melo is willing to be patient and wait another year before he has a realistic opportunity to win a championship, then he may well opt to re-sign with the Knicks and remain where he is with the hope that Jackson can deliver on his promise.
However, now 30, it is recognised that Anthony is in the peak years of his career and may not be willing to ‘waste’ another season, therefore the Bulls and Lakers come back into the picture and should have a realistic opportunity to sign him.
Although the Bulls have made enquiries about Gasol and European prospect Nikola Mirotic, which suggest that they are not holding much hope in their pursuit of Anthony, should he become open to a switch to the Windy City then they will undoubtedly change their stance and approach moving forward.
Nevertheless, while the decision involves much more than merely money and success, a $55m sacrifice to leave the Knicks for the Bulls is a significant amount regardless of the player and his earnings to date.
Chicago perhaps still represents his best opportunity at winning a ring in the immediate future, and Anthony will likely consider all avenues again and again until he reaches a conclusion later this week.