Following visits to Chicago, Houston and Dallas, the Carmelo Anthony free agency tour is currently in Los Angeles. Anthony is scheduled to meet with the Lakers and Knicks in Los Angeles on Thursday and New York is pushing for a quick resolution, with the Knicks hoping to get Anthony to agree to re-sign with the team Thursday night, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
The Anthony sweepstakes is unlikely to end that quickly, however. A source "doubts" Anthony commits on Thursday, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. A resolution still could come soon with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reporting Anthony will take the weekend to make his decision. Even if the Knicks are unable to secure a commitment from Anthony Thursday night, they may still be the front-runner. According to Stein, some of the other teams in the running are becoming more pessimistic that Anthony will leave New York.
The Bulls, Rockets and Mavericks already made their pitches to the star forward, and the Lakers are next in line. With a decision possibly coming as soon as the end of the day, or at least within the next few days, let's take a closer look at the top suitors in the chase for Anthony.
Chicago was Anthony's first free agent stop and the Bulls rolled out the red carpet. The United Center was decked out with signage welcoming Anthony and even a few oversized pictures of Anthony wearing a Bulls uniform. Chicago's top players came by for a visit -- Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose all made appearances at the United Center during Anthony's visit. Rose may have even worked out to show Anthony he is healthy, although some reports indicate that workout was just a typical part of Rose's rehab. The Bulls don't have the salary cap freedom of some of the other suitors and that may be a factor. Former NBA guard Kenny Anderson tweeted Anthony was "not happy" with the offer the Bulls made.
Anthony visited the Rockets on Wednesday and like Chicago, Houston welcomed him with photoshopped graphics displayed on the arena. Anthony was wearing a No. 7 Houston jersey, a number which is currently occupied by Jeremy Lin. The decision to use Lin's number reportedly ruffled some feathers with Lin feeling "disrespected" by it. Anthony reportedly met with James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston and spent six hours with the team.
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Following his meeting with Houston, Anthony flew to Dallas to talk with the Mavericks. Unlike his previous two stops, the Mavericks didn't photoshop any pictures or put on a grand display. According to a report from ESPN, Anthony met with the Mavericks for a little more than two hours, far less than his nine-hour session in Chicago and six-hour session with the Rockets. The meeting was held at owner Mark Cuban's house and Dallas' pitch focused on the opportunity to win now.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are meeting with Anthony on Thursday in Los Angeles. Anthony and Kobe Bryant have a close relationship according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and Bryant will be part of the Lakers' pitch. He won't be involved in the initial meeting, however, as Bryant was vacationing in Europe and is flying back early to meet with Anthony. Wojnarowski reported Bryant may not make it back in time, but he will attempt to talk to Anthony before he makes a decision.
New York Knicks
The Knicks will make a final pitch to Anthony in Los Angeles on Thursday. Some consider the Knicks to be a strong front-runner to retain Anthony. There are a few signs Anthony is leaning that direction, including the fact he's reportedly talked to free agent Pau Gasol about playing together in New York, according to Wojnarowski. The Knicks have the ability to offer Anthony the most money and have reportedly balked at a sign-and-trade deal with Chicago involving Carlos Boozer, according to Chris Broussard.