Carmelo Anthony race crowded

The Hawks would have to clear approximately $10 million to $12 million in salary-cap space to pursue Anthony, but sources indicate that is one of the many options Atlanta is considering, making it a sleeper team to watch.

Anthony is eligible to sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over the next five seasons with the Knicks. A max deal with a new team is $96 million over four years.

"Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and he loves the fans," Leon Rose, Anthony's agent, said Monday. "At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."

In an online interview that aired Monday, Anthony said uprooting his family to another city could not be dismissed as a factor amid the rising speculation about the Bulls' desire to team him with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and hard-driving coach Tom Thibodeau.

In the interview with Vice Sports taped June 3, Anthony said: "The average person just sees the opportunity to say that, 'Oh, Melo should go here, Melo should go there. I think he should do this, I think he should do that.' But they don't take into consideration the family aspect of it. Your livelihood. Where you're going to be living at. Do you want your kids to grow up in that place? In that city? Do I want to spend the rest of my career in that situation in that city? So all of that stuff comes into play.

"My son goes to school [in New York]. He loves it here. To take him out and take him somewhere else, he has to learn that system all over again, he has to get new friends. And I know how hard it was for me when I moved from New York to Baltimore at a young age. Having to work your way to try to make friends.

"As far as this goes, basketball goes, it's hard to just say, 'OK, I'm going to go here, I'm going to make this decision, I'm going to do that.' Because everybody's affected by that."

New Knicks president Phil Jackson tried for weeks to convince Anthony to opt in for the final season on his current contract and delay his free agency until the summer of 2015. But Anthony maintained all season that he intended to become a free agent this summer and, according to a report last week from ESPN New York's Ian Begley, already has begun researching the city of Chicago.

Thibodeau, meanwhile, has reached out to some of Anthony's former coaches to inquire about the seven-time All-Star, according to a recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times. And ESPN.com reported in March that Anthony and Noah talked about playing under Thibodeau during the All-Star break in a conversation that turned into a recruiting pitch from Noah to Anthony.

Jackson said late last month that he's "not losing sleep" over Anthony's free agency but is "definitely concerned" about the idea of Anthony signing elsewhere. Anthony has said publicly that he would like to stay in New York but also wants to be in position to win an NBA championship.

The Knicks are coming off a 37-45 season under the fired Mike Woodson and don't have salary-cap space to seriously retool the roster around Anthony until the summer of 2015.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley and ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst was used in this report.

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