After officially stating he would opt out of his final year with the New York Knicks, sources close to Carmello Anthony say the race to pick him up is very crowded.
The current frontrunners include the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers, and starting on July 1, they will begin making their pitches.
In addition, two teams that could join the race for ‘Melo are the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks, depending on how things play out before, during and after the draft on Thursday.
The Bulls are widely regarded as the early favorite to steal ‘Melo from the Knicks, with sources saying Monday that Chicago has been planning for his free-agent pursuit for months, going back to the January trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland. Other sources say every move Chicago made during the season’s second half, which included the minor signings of veterans Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson and Mike James to very tradable contracts, was made with the hope they might be helpful in a potential sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Anthony.
The Rockets would be looking to trade center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin to clear enough space under the salary cap to make Anthony an offer.
Should Anthony leave, even if he went to the best possible candidate, he would be taking at least a $50 million paycut from what the Knicks would offer him, which still isn’t out of the realm of possibility. But ‘Melo has said recently, it isn’t about the money anymore, it’s about winning.
Also in the NBA, Tim Duncan has decided to continue his career for an 18th season with the San Antonio Spurs and exercised his $10.3 million play option for next season.
After winning his fifth NBA title this month, Duncan said he was undecided on his future. He had until Tuesday to pick up his option or opt to become a free agent on July 1st. There was some discussion about working out a new contract for Duncan, but he elected to stay in his deal.
Mexico, Brazil advance; U.S. gears up for match against Germany
In World Cup news, Mexico has officially put a troublesome 2013 behind them in World Cup Play. In last night’s match against a talented Croatia team, the Mexicans put up three goals in under 10 minutes to down the Croatians 3-1 and advanced to the 16-team knockout round for the sixth straight time.
And for, Brazil, Neymar’s two-goal show put the host country on top of Group A with a 4-1 defeat of Cameroon yesterday, setting them up with a match in the knockout round against Chile.
The U.S. is set to play Germany on Thursday in a match that will most likely determine who advances to the knockout round from the so-called “Group of Death.”