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updated: 7/1/2014 10:46 PM

Family matters could keep Anthony in N.Y.

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  • Bulls star Derrick Rose leaves the United Center after the Bulls met with NBA free agent Carmelo Anthony at the facility Tuesday. The Bulls believe they have a strong pitch and a simple selling point: Anthony can transform a playoff team into a championship contender. They believe uniting Anthony with Rose and Joakim Noah, who arrived earlier at the arena, would put them in position to contend for their first title since Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the way to two three-peats in the 1990s.

      Bulls star Derrick Rose leaves the United Center after the Bulls met with NBA free agent Carmelo Anthony at the facility Tuesday. The Bulls believe they have a strong pitch and a simple selling point: Anthony can transform a playoff team into a championship contender. They believe uniting Anthony with Rose and Joakim Noah, who arrived earlier at the arena, would put them in position to contend for their first title since Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the way to two three-peats in the 1990s.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Bulls draped the United Center with banners of the NBA championship trophy and Carmelo Anthony wearing a No. 7 uniform of the local team.

Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and even Derrick Rose stopped in to say hello. Anthony was given a tour of the Bulls' new practice facility, which is expected to open this fall, and later was taken to dinner.

Coach Tom Thibodeau rode in a van with Anthony on the way to the United Center, no doubt talking up how much defense he could teach the high-scoring forward. Actually, Thibodeau might save that part for later.

The general message was an obvious one: The Bulls can provide a chance to contend for a championship right away, along with a four- or five-year window for success with players of a similar age.

The chance to win has to be important to Anthony. While the list of ringless NBA stars is long on respected names (Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson), all of those guys at least made it to the Finals.

Anthony has gotten as far as the conference finals once in 11 NBA seasons.

So all of the Bulls' talking points -- the East is there for the taking, Chicago is a great sports town, Rose is healthy, Thibs is a teddy bear -- were likely met with no resistance.

There are two reasons so many people believe Anthony will stay in New York: The Knicks can offer the most money (as much as $129 million over five years) and his wife, La La, doesn't want to move.

Carmelo and La La have been married since 2010 and have a 7-year-old son, Kiyan. She an actress, author, reality television star and accomplished business woman.

Chicago might make sense for Anthony's basketball legacy but might not work for his family. When Anthony walked into the United Center on Tuesday afternoon, there was no sign of La La, but it's possible she made the trip. La La is said to be friends with Scottie Pippen's wife, Larsa. Photos of the two families together in Paris were posted on Instagram just last week.

Another odd part of the Bulls' quest for Anthony is that two other key peripheral characters are Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan, two of the three biggest names in franchise history. Pippen is the other, obviously.

The Bulls can make up most of the monetary imbalance by negotiating a sign-and-trade with Jackson, who was hired a few weeks ago. It's possible Jackson just says no to any sign-and-trade, but there actually a couple of scenarios that might make sense for the Knicks.

The Bulls could send an asset or two to New York, then combine the traded players and cap room created by using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer.

A second option is to trade Boozer to the Knicks with some other pieces and take back J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni along with Anthony. Such a trade would give New York more than $50 million in cap room for 2015 because Smith and Prigioni are signed for two more seasons.

Jordan is Anthony's shoe sponsor, and no one knows better than the Bulls' legend how much money can be made off the court if you do things right on the court. The Bulls made sure Anthony walked past the Jordan statue on the way inside the United Center. He was accompanied by agent Leon Rose and business manager Bay Frazier.

The Bulls contacted other free agents late Monday, but most of those targets are fallback scenarios if Anthony doesn't sign on. Among the players contacted, according to various reports, were Kirk Hinrich, Pau Gasol, Ramon Sessions, Paul Pierce and (surprisingly) Luol Deng. The Bulls will need to sign a backup point guard.

Anthony is planning to visit Dallas and Houston on Wednesday, then the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Anything is possible, but most NBA observers think if Anthony leaves New York, Chicago is his most likely destination.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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