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Carmelo Anthony continues to weigh his options

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks looks on in

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks looks on in the second half of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Carmelo Anthony watch and wait continues.

Free agency is in its second week and Anthony still is mulling his future.

It's unclear if Anthony wants to see the teams he's considering make moves to improve their roster or if he's waiting for LeBron James to sign before making his own decision about where to play next season.

Anthony met with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks last week. He is said to be deciding between the Knicks and Lakers, but the Bulls reportedly still are in play. The Knicks, however, remain the front-runners.

Teams can sign free agents beginning Thursday.

Chicago had been considered the favorite to sign Anthony if he left the Knicks. The Bulls, who have trouble scoring, could contend in the Eastern Conference with Anthony. They can't offer him as lucrative a contract as the Lakers or Rockets can, though.

The Lakers made a strong pitch to Anthony and have an influential salesman in Kobe Bryant, one of Anthony's closest friends in the league. They have talked throughout the offseason and reportedly were seen playing pickup basketball together Sunday at UCLA.

But the Knicks can offer Anthony the most money. When they sat down together in Los Angeles on Thursday, team president Phil Jackson told Anthony he would offer him a maximum contract of five years and $129 million.

The Lakers told Anthony they would give him the maximum contract they can under CBA rules -- four years and $96 million.

The Rockets appear to have moved on to Chris Bosh, an indication they don't believe they are in play for Anthony. There is speculation that if Bosh goes to Houston -- the Rockets reportedly offered him a max deal of four years and $88 million -- it would free up money for the Heat to sign Anthony and form a Big Three with James and Dwyane Wade.

Depending on what moves the Bulls make, they can pay Anthony about $70 million over four years. It would be more if Chicago can get the Knicks to do a sign-and-trade involving Carlos Boozer.

The Cavaliers, Lakers and Suns also hope to lure James from the Heat. The Lakers, Suns and Rockets have dreams of an Anthony-James pairing.

Jackson already has begun revamping the Knicks' roster, improving the point guard position and the depth and versatility of the team.

He sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round picks that became athletic, scoring small forward Cleanthony Early and energetic defender Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

Jackson has been trying to lure Pau Gasol to the Knicks, but they have only the $3.2-million taxpayer midlevel exception at this point.

The Lakers want Gasol back and it's believed he will return if Anthony signs with them.

The Knicks could have some advantages. Jackson coached Gasol with the Lakers. New Knicks coach Derek Fisher played with him. Calderon is Gasol's point guard on the Spanish national team. Anthony reportedly was trying to reach out to Gasol to talk to him about playing with the Knicks.

But the $16-million pay cut Gasol would have to take to sign with the Knicks might be too much to overcome, especially for a team not ready to win now.

Jackson is exploring trades because the Knicks have nine players who are guards or wing players. He said he will lighten that load.

Rambis hiring official. The Knicks announced the hiring of Kurt Rambis as Fisher's associate head coach. Rambis spent seven years as an assistant under Jackson and 10 seasons with Fisher.

"Together, Derek and I have started assembling a coaching staff to lead this team on and off the court," Jackson said in a statement. "The three of us are similar in our philosophies and our approach to the game."

Rambis, a former head coach of the Lakers and Timberwolves, has been a part of eight championship teams as a player, coach and executive.

It was expected that Fisher, a first-time coach, would have experienced assistants on the bench. Former Knick Bill Cartwright also is a candidate to join Fisher.

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