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Knicks' Anthony plans to enter free agency

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All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony will exercise the early termination option (ETO) on his current contract with the New York Knicks and become a free agent on July 1.

Multiple outlets have reported the expected move.

Anthony has a Monday deadline to opt out of the $23.5 million deal for the 2014-15 season.

The Bulls and the Houston Rockets have been the two teams that have been linked to receiving serious consideration by Anthony. Both clubs would have some cap maneuvering to do to sign Anthony to the maximum deal they can offer him, $96 million over four years.

Anthony could still opt to re-sign with the Knicks for the maximum they could offer him, $129 over five years, but it appears Knicks' President Phil Jackson would prefer if the All-Star took less so the team could surround him with a deeper roster in the near future as the huge contracts of Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani will come off the books next summer.

The Rockets do appear to have a more attractive sign-and-trade possibility as they could offer Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, who both will be in the last years of deals that will pay them $15 million. Asik would give them a defensive big, who could be in their future plans and Lin's rise to prominence begin in New York.

The Bulls could use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, but they would only have about $11 million of salary-cap space. They would then have to offload contracts and not take anything back in order to sign anything to the near max he is allowed.

The Bulls can officially begin making their pitch to Anthony at 11:01 PM Central on June 30th.

That pitch will undoubtedly be that they are the best option for him in terms of contending for a title with the roster and system that's in place in an Eastern Conference that looks to just house one truly elite team.

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