Apr 11, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots and scores a basket over Toronto Raptors forward John Salmons (25) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Rumors: Carmelo Anthony Opts Out Of Contract With New York Knicks

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The first shoe has dropped in the Chicago Bulls’ pursuit of Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony has decided to opt-out of his current contract with the New York Knicks and will become a free agent on June 30.

The move now brings the Bulls one step closer to acquiring Anthony this summer.

While Anthony could certainly still return to the Knicks this summer, the chances of that happening took a significant hit on Sunday with Anthony’s decision. If Anthony were to sign back with the Knicks, chances are he would do so for the maximum contract. However, such a move would restrict the Knicks from making any other moves until next season.

The Bulls can not afford a maximum contract for Anthony. However, the team is seeking a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. Though, at this point talks between the Knicks and Bulls gave gone nowhere because of the Knicks lack of interest in Carlos Boozer. Though, the Bulls possess two first round draft picks and that could be enticing to a team in the Knicks that have no draft picks in the upcoming draft on Thursday.

The biggest threat to the Bulls in the Anthony Sweepstakes now appear to be the Houston Rockets. Though, the Rockets’ chances of acquiring Anthony are minimal until the team is able to unload Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

In addition, the path to the NBA Finals for Anthony would seemingly be easier with the Bulls than it would be with the Rockets. The Bulls are also in talks to acquire Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo as a way to add more appeal for Anthony to choose the Bulls.

If the Bulls were to acquire both Anthony and Afflalo, then chances are they would have a starting lineup next year of Derrick Rose at point, Afflalo as the shooting guard, Anthony as the small forward, Taj Gibson as the power forward, and Joakim Noah at center. Jimmy Butler, who was the starting 2-guard for the Bulls last season, would move into the sixth man role.

Optimism can always be a dangerous thing in sports. But, there certainly is reason for Bulls fans to be optimistic about the team’s pursuit of Anthony.

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