Carmelo Anthony deciding between Bulls and Knicks, Lakers out of the running

Carmelo Anthony isn't ready to make his free agent decision, but has narrowed his choices to two teams.

The Los Angeles Lakers are no longer in the running to sign free agent Carmelo Anthony with the star forward narrowing his options to the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicksaccording to ESPN. A return to New York was thought to be the likely outcome for much of his free agency tour, but the Bulls emerged as a strong contender recently.

On Wednesday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported Anthony had made a decision and was expected to announce a return to the Knicks on Thursday, barring a last-minute change of heart. Knicks president Phil Jackson said he thought a decision would come soon and thought the outcome would be "positive" for the Knicks. Thursday came and went without a decision, however, and reports began to surface that Anthony regained interest in signing with Chicago.

The Lakers' position in the race bounced around quite a bit. They were thought to be a longshot early on and were the last team Anthony visited on his free agent tour. They started to gain some traction in the race and were reportedly one of three finalists along with Chicago and New York. That has since changed again with Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reporting the Lakers are no longer a consideration for Anthony.

While Anthony may have been leaning toward returning to the Knicks, it appears to be a legitimate two-team race now. With LeBron James heading to Cleveland, the Eastern Conference is wide open. Anthony could make the most money in New York and has reportedly bought into Jackson's plan to rebuild the team. The Knicks are still further away from contention and Anthony could join an instant championship contender in Chicago. Pairing him with a healthy Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and the other pieces in place might make the Bulls the No. 1 contender to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Regardless of where he signs, it doesn't sound like a decision will come before the weekend with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reporting Anthony won't decide today.

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