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Report: Bulls and Rockets are Carmelo Anthony’s top free agent options if he leaves Knicks

Mar 19, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks Getty Images

More than at any point since this season began getting away from the Knicks, it seems Carmelo Anthony will re-sign in New York.

Phil Jackson said in no uncertain terms he wants to keep Melo, and Melo has expressed a willingness to follow Jackson.

But the Knicks are still 27-40 and – with no draft picks or cap space and few trade assets – have little chance of getting significantly better next season. Melo would be crazy to not consider leaving.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Anthony has free-agent options, and two have risen above everything else: Chicago and Houston, sources with direct knowledge of his plans told Yahoo Sports.

“He’ll give New York every option,” one source with knowledge of Anthony’s plans told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “But he has options – and he’s going to explore them all.”

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The Rockets reportedly believe they can get Melo, but it would almost certainly take a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. What I’d give to be a fly on the wall in negotiations between the old-school Jackson and the analytical Daryl Morey. Those are two decision-makers coming at it from different perspectives, and that could make hashing out a deal difficult.

Chicago was previously reported to be a prime destination for Melo, and that was before Joakim Noah reportedly pitched him at the All-Star game.

What do the Bulls and Rockets have in common? They’re well-run teams with winning records.

Jackson, despite his star power, can’t instantaneously turn the Knicks into either one of those things. I suspect Chicago and Houston will remain appealing to Melo right through the moment he signs somewhere this summer.

But if Melo’s first priority is still to remain with the Knicks, and I take him at face value on that, Jackson’s hiring should have the Bulls and Rockets taking eggs out of the Melo basket.

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