Sources: Melo to meet with Bulls first

Updated: July 1, 2014, 12:49 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Carmelo Anthony is planning to meet with the Chicago Bulls in Chicago on the opening day of free agency after the NBA's offseason market officially opens Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., according to sources familiar with Anthony's plans.

Sources told ESPN.com that Anthony is in the process of arranging a trip to Chicago to meet with the Bulls, then intends to travel to Texas for Wednesday meetings with both the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks.

Sources say Anthony is likely to visit the Rockets first on Wednesday, followed by the Mavericks in the afternoon.

Anthony, who maintains an offseason home in Los Angeles, is expected to meet with the Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.

But ESPN.com reported Saturday that despite the fact Anthony is about to be courted hard by the aforementioned suitors, the New York Knicks are nonetheless increasingly optimistic about their chances of re-signing Anthony, stemming at least in part from what one source describes as the way new Knicks president Phil Jackson has "connected" with Anthony.

One source close to the process told Shelburne that Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Lakers center, Pau Gasol, to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks' front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.

Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Knicks swung their trade with the Mavericks to send out Chandler and the out-of-favor Raymond Felton to bring back a clutch of veterans in return -- headlined by point guard Jose Calderon -- in their belief that Anthony would relish the prospect of playing with the Spaniard. Calderon has been a perimeter threat and a beloved teammate everywhere he's played.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
AP Photo/Seth WenigCarmelo Anthony will have his hands full as he plans trips to Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles to kick off free agency, according to sources.

Sources insist that the Knicks feel far better about their chances than Jackson is letting on. No team can match the five years and $129 million that New York can provide if it wishes to offer a maximum contract to Anthony, and while Anthony is undoubtedly intrigued by the chance to team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, he also still loves the Madison Square Garden stage dearly.

Anthony also said in an interview in early June that he would be hesitant to uproot his family -- 7-year-old son Kiyan in particular -- from New York to another city.

Meanwhile, if the Bulls are able to successfully acquire Anthony, they likely won't get any recruiting help from their injured former league MVP.

Rose reiterated that again Sunday, telling Yahoo! Sports that it "wasn't his job" to be part of a sales pitch to the All-Star forward. That news won't come as a surprise to a Bulls front office that was never banking on Rose being part of that pitch in the first place.

"If they want to come, they can come," Rose told Yahoo! Sports.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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