Carmelo Still Leaning Toward Free-Agency, Bulls, Rockets Leading Pack?

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Carmelo Anthony

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Even with Phil Jackson now in the fold and on the job, Carmelo Anthony still appears to be leaning toward summer free-agency and the Bulls and Rockets are thought to be the frontrunners to land the league’s No. 2 leading scorer.

Sources tell Yahoo! Sports despite all the fanfare born of Jackson’s official unveiling this week, the two teams remain high as options on his list, with Chicago thought to have the best chance of landing him based on the team’s easier path in securing the salary-cap space (waiving Carlos Boozer) that will be needed to ink him.

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

At least on the surface, none of them seem more attractive than for Anthony to take his talents to Chicago, where he would be expected to instantly compete for a chip starring alongside a finally healthy Derrick Rose and a still emerging Joakim Noah.

For the first time since the days of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, Anthony would give the Bulls their own version of a legitimate NBA Big 3.  And much that three-peat winning trio, playing in coach Tom Thibodeau’s system each member of the posse would be as uniquely and aptly pigeon-holed to do what he does best as any star in the league.

Even before Rose suffered his second-straight season-ending knee injury, the one thing the Bulls lacked most was scoring, which, not so coincidentally, is the one thing Anthony not only does best but does as well as arguably anyone in the league.

Coupled with Rose’s playmaking and pre-injury scoring ability and Noah’s do everything style, the Bulls with Anthony would finally appear to have everything they need in dethroning LeBron and the Heat as Eastern Conference kingpins.

And apparently that’s not a tough sell in Chi-Town, where rumblings can still be heard about how much time Noah spent during All-Star Week in New Orleans last month trying to convince Anthony of that every way of thinking.

But the Knicks won’t go down without a fight, and with Jackson now in the fold they seem to have the fighter’s chance no one saw coming as recently as a week ago.

“I’m a chess player. That was a power move right there,” Anthony said of Jackson’s hiring. “So, now we’re going to see what’s the next move, but that was a great power move. You, know what I mean””

Not quite, but we all soon might.

Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.