As of late Monday night, everything was still "up in the air" for Carmelo Anthony on Day 7 of his free agency, according to a source close to the All-Star forward.
“Nothing’s been ruled out yet,” the source said.
So the Knicks, Lakers and Bulls were forced to wait at least another day for Anthony’s final decision.
All three teams -- plus the Rockets and Mavericks -- made pitches to Anthony last week. The Knicks verbally offered Anthony the most money (a maximum contract of five years, $129 million). But the Lakers and Bulls have emerged as strong candidates, too. Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant made quite an impression on Anthony in a meeting Thursday and in subsequent days.
Anthony spent several days in Los Angeles after the meeting (he has a home there) and has been in touch with Bryant. Los Angeles offered Anthony a four-year, $96 million deal, emphasizing to Anthony that they can build a winner around him and Bryant. The Lakers talked to Melo about the franchise's tradition and also stressed the idea that when Bryant’s contract expires in two seasons, the Lakers will be "Anthony’s team," according to sources.
They also produced a short movie of his life put together by movie producer Joel Silver and narrated by Tobey Maguire, according to multiple reports. The Lakers also appealed to Anthony’s wife, La La, and her acting career.
Chicago also made a presentation that "wowed" Anthony, according to a source. The Bulls offer Anthony the best chance to win right away but would need to acquire Anthony in a sign-and-trade. That would require the Knicks' cooperation.
Those around Anthony hoping for him to return to the Knicks were a bit anxious over the drawn-out timetable. One theory is the longer he agonizes over the decision, the longer the odds of him returning to the Knicks.
"He already knows what they have to offer," one of Anthony's friends said Monday night.
Another theory is that Anthony is waiting to see what happens with free agent Chris Bosh. Houston has offered Bosh a max contract. If Bosh were to sign with the Rockets, it would open up significant cap space for the Heat, who could then make a run at Anthony.
LeBron James and Anthony have long expressed a desire to play together. So Anthony could be waiting to find out what James will do as well.
The Cavs are making a push to sign James. But Heat president Pat Riley agreed to deals with Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts on Monday. It's hard to see Riley making those moves without some type of assurance James will be back next season.
As far as Anthony goes, he stated throughout the season he'd like to return to New York but needed assurances the Knicks were on the path to building a contender. To that end, president Phil Jackson traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for a package centered around Jose Calderon. Jackson said Anthony supported that deal.
In recent days, Jackson has talked to multiple teams -- including the Philadelphia 76ers -- about moving Amar'e Stoudemire in an effort to clear more cap space this summer. Moving Stoudemire and his $23.4 million contract would allow the Knicks to take back players in a sign-and-trade and could give them more money to offer free agents such as Pau Gasol.
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.