The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls appear to have become the frontrunners in the race to sign Carmelo Anthony.
According to unnamed sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, those two aforementioned franchises have risen above other free agent options as the New York Knicks superstar prepares to test the market waters and opt out of his current deal this summer.
It is further suggested that the Bulls would have a much easier job clearing the necessary cap space it would take to land a player of Anthony's caliber, yet the Rockets supposedly believe that they would be able to ditch contracts - perhaps those of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin - in order to offer him a near-max deal.
With the Knicks in disarray this season and struggling badly to push forward into the Eastern Conference playoff mix, speculation as to just whether or not Anthony will remain at Madison Square Garden beyond the next off-season has been rife for many months now.
New York's recent front-office employment of legendary coach and 'zen master' Phil Jackson could well influence such a decision, but if 'Melo were indeed to look elsewhere after such a frustrating campaign under the hapless Mike Woodson then it would appear that he will not be short of options.
Houston, who currently sit fourth in the Western Conference standings, already boast two bonafide All-Stars in Dwight Howard and James Harden and - as arguably the form team since the NBA season entered 2014 - look capable of making some real noise in the playoffs.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have had a similarly impressive season. While a record of 37-30 is certainly not as striking as the Rockets' 45-22, they have managed to compete at a remarkably high level all season long without the services of former MVP point guard Derrick Rose.
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