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Sunday, June 22, 2014
In or out? Carmelo's deadline is Monday

By Ian Begley

Mark your calendars: Sunday, June 22 may be Carmelo Anthony's final day as a member of the New York Knicks.

Anthony has to inform the team if he intends to opt out of the final year of his contract on Monday. So Anthony will let the Knicks -- and the rest of the NBA -- know sometime tomorrow if he will test free agency this summer.

If Anthony tests free agency, the Chicago Bulls are expected to be among several suitors for his services.

Anthony, according to league sources, has already done some homework on the Bulls and the city of Chicago. He has talked to more than one high-profile person who lives in Chicago about what it's like to be famous in the Windy City, league sources say.

That's just the latest dot to connect when it comes to Melo and Chicago. In March, ESPN.com reported that Anthony talked to Bulls center Joakim Noah during All-Star Weekend about what it was like to play under Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau. That conversation turned into a recruiting pitch from Noah to Anthony. At the very least, Anthony is intrigued by the possibility of playing there.

One scenario through which Anthony can end up with the Bulls is a sign-and-trade involving Carlos Boozer. Of course, the Knicks would have to agree to a sign-and-trade.

That's one of the biggest issues facing New York right now. The Knicks have to decide whether they are willing to execute a sign-and-trade to send Anthony to another team.

This is crucial, because if Phil Jackson & Co. are open to completing a sign-and-trade, Anthony's options on the open market increase. Both Chicago and Houston are in a position to execute a sign-and-trade for Anthony.

But if New York decides that it doesn't want to do a sign-and-trade, Anthony's options will be limited. The Bulls and Rockets would have to create enough cap space to sign Anthony to a sizable contract. To do so, they would need to move players off their current roster.

All of this conjecture, of course, is based on the assumption that Anthony will opt out. Anthony has said publicly that he intends to test free agency.

Jackson, though, has said he would like Anthony to consider opting in.

A league source said earlier this month that Anthony had not changed his mind and still intends to test free agency. It would take a dramatic shift in thinking for him to change course at this point.

If you're looking for clues about Anthony's mindset when it comes to staying in New York, look no further than what he said the day after the Knicks' season ended in April:

"I want to come back. But I also want to win," he said. "You know, me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of [the next contract], then I'm willing to stay here and I'm willing to ride or die for New York.

"You know, I've never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what's out there."

Anthony's thinking, according to one league source, hasn't changed. He wants to remain with the Knicks, but he needs a reason to stay.

Essentially, the crux of the issue is whether he believes Jackson can build a winner around him -- and if he's willing to wait through the 2014-15 season to see if the Knicks can truly turn themselves into a contender again.

Question: Do you think Carmelo Anthony is more likely to end up in New York or Chicago next season?

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