- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Lakers may have emerged as strong contenders in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, but sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard on Sunday that the Knicks “remain confident” in their chances of re-signing Anthony.
Anthony spent Sunday mulling over his options.
There was an unconfirmed rumor that he and Kobe Bryant spent part of the day in Los Angeles playing pickup hoops at UCLA. An associate athletic director at the university tweeted that Anthony, Bryant and Kevin Love were there playing basketball together. A UCLA spokesman later told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that Bryant was in the gym but did not confirm Anthony was there.
As of Sunday evening, neither Anthony nor his representatives had informed any of the teams pursuing him that they’d been ruled out, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported. The Mavericks, Rockets, Lakers, Bulls and Knicks are courting Anthony.
According to Stein, there was a growing sense circulating through the league Sunday that Anthony is likely to choose between the Knicks and the Lakers, who are the only two teams that can offer him max money without needing to make roster moves first.
New York has verbally offered Anthony a five-year deal worth $129 million. The Lakers have offered a four-year deal valued at $97 million.
ESPN.com reported a week ago -- before Anthony started his tour of meetings with interested teams -- that the Knicks were increasingly confident about their chances of retaining the high-scoring forward, partly because of the way Anthony and new Knicks president Phil Jackson have "connected."
Sources told ESPNNewYork.com on Saturday -- after Anthony’s meetings -- that the Knicks were feeling "positive" about their chances of re-signing Anthony. The source said the free agent received Knicks president Phil Jackson's message "well" during their meeting on Thursday.
But Bryant could be a wild card in all of this. Sources told Shelburne that Bryant and Anthony have been in constant communication this summer, and there is some sentiment that Anthony's respect for Bryant could ultimately "put the Lakers over the top."
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