7 teams reportedly in play for Carmelo Anthony

The Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers are all expected to try and steal Anthony from the Knicks, with the Heat and Hawks also in contention.

The Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes are expected to be fierce, with as many as seven teams in the running for the New York Knicks star, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein. The Chicago Bulls are regarded as the early favorites to land Anthony if he chooses to leave New York, but the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are expected to court the 30-year-old, as well, when free agency begins July 1.

The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks may also become involved in the Anthony chase. The possibility of a Big Four in Miami was first reported two weeks ago, but it would require Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to all take significant pay cuts.

Anthony has the potential to make the most money by staying in New York, where he could receive a five-year, $129 million contract as opposed to a max of four years and $96 million elsewhere. However, new Knicks president Phil Jackson has said he hopes Anthony will take a reduction in pay, and the Knicks star has said he would be willing to do so to help with flexibility.

However, if Anthony is willing to take less money, he might consider signing with team that he feels has a better shot at a championship in the coming years. That's the hope for the Bulls, who have reportedly been planning their pursuit of Melo for months. Anthony appears to be a big fan of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and with Derrick Rose returning from a knee injury, a trio of Anthony, Rose and Joakim Noah could be formidable.

While leaving New York and going elsewhere to play for a winner seems like an easy basketball decision, it's not that simple. Anthony likes playing for the Knicks and enjoys New York City. In an interview with VICE Sports, he talked about the potential difficulty of uprooting his family. So though there has been plenty of speculation that Anthony will leave, it's not a foregone conclusion.

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