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Dec 11, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson (22) defends against New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in the second half of NBA game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony rumors: Anthony connected with Chicago Bulls' Taj Gibson

It looks like New York Knicks’ free agent forward Carmelo Anthony is finally nearing a decision. However, which way he is leaning is currently unknown. He visited with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers (in that order) before sitting down with the Knicks. The Bulls, Lakers and Knicks and have all been considered the favorites to land Anthony at one point with the Rockets on the outside looking in and the Mavericks’ visit being considered nothing more than a “charade.”

When Anthony visited the Bulls, he not only toured the facilities, but also watched oft-injured point guard Derrick Rose work out and had dinner with several prominent Bulls’ figures, including head coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Gar Forman, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and a pair of Bulls’ big men, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. The inclusion of Gibson seemed strange because many believe they may have to deal him to afford Anthony. However, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, Gibson and Anthony actually “connected” during the visit.

The fact Taj Gibson played an active part of the Bulls’ pitch played to Anthony’s desire to keep Gibson and possibly join a ready-to-win roster. A source familiar with the Bulls’ pitch said Anthony and Gibson “connected.”

Without a sign-and-trade and by keeping Gibson, the Bulls only can offer Anthony a four-year, roughly $73 million deal via salary-cap space. This is one of the many reasons acquiring Anthony via a sign-and-trade is more ideal. It can make Anthony’s offer far more lucrative and allow the Bulls to remain over the salary cap, thus allowing them to sign other players via exceptions.

Anthony put up 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game and shot 45.2% from the field, 40.2% from beyond the arc and 84.8% from the free throw line last season. Gibson went for 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 47.9% from the field and 75.1% from the free throw line.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony Chicago Bulls NBA Free Agency Taj Gibson

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