"As planned, All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony will file notice with the New York Knicks on Monday that he plans to exercise the early termination option on his contract and become a free agent on July 1, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
"Anthony has a Monday deadline to opt out of the $23.5 million deal for the 2014-'15 season.
"Anthony is determined to explore free agency and will closely examine opportunities with the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, league sources said.
"New York can offer Anthony, 30, the most money and security -- a five-year, $125-million-plus contract -- but he's intrigued with the chance to join an immediate contender in Chicago and Houston, league sources said. New York can't begin to get out from under its salary cap issues until next summer.
"Chicago and Houston have work to do to clear salary cap space to sign Anthony to a four-year deals during in the $90 million range but are working on contingencies to do so should Anthony decide he wants to sign with them."
ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne also confirm Anthony will test the free-agent market:
"Carmelo Anthony has informed the New York Knicks in writing that he will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple sources.
"The Knicks recently expressed the hope that Anthony would not do this. Team president Phil Jackson said recently he hoped Anthony would consider opting into the final year of his contract and testing free agency in the summer of 2015.
"Jackson has privately expressed that hope to Anthony several times since the end of the regular season.
"The Chicago Bulls are one of several teams with whom Anthony would consider signing, according to sources.
"According to league sources, Anthony has talked to at least one high-profile person who lives in Chicago about what it's like to be famous in the Windy City.
"The Bulls also have reportedly done their due diligence on Anthony in recent days. According to a report in The Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has reached out to some of Anthony's former coaches to inquire about the seven-time All-Star.
"In addition to the Bulls, Anthony would consider signing with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, sources say. The Miami Heat have also explored its available options in trying to pursue Anthony, ESPN.com reported earlier this month.
"Anthony can sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years with the Knicks. He can ink a maximum deal worth $96 million over four years with another team.
"Anthony has discussed the possibility of accepting less than a maximum contract to help the team that he signs with attract additional free agents. He would likely have to take a significant pay cut to sign with the Heat."
The New York Daily News' Frank Isola says there will be no holding Anthony back in becoming a free agent. There is still a chance the All-Star forward remains with New York, he says, but Anthony wants to play for a contender more than anything else:
"Carmelo Anthony will notify the Knicks on Monday, via mail, that he is opting out of the final year of his contract and that he plans to test the free agent market.
"A person close to the All-Star forward confirmed on Sunday that Anthony will become a free agent on July 1st.
"'Yes, 100 percent,' the source told The Daily News.
"Anthony has been steadfast in his plans to become an unrestricted free agenty and has said throughout the season that he would exercise the early termination clause in his contract. Knicks president Phil Jackson had asked Anthony to consider 'opting in' and giving him and head coach Derek Fisher the chance to show Anthony that they are committed to building a winner.
"Anthony's decision does not mean he won't return to the Knicks, who have the ability to pay him more than any other team. Anthony's preference is to remain in New York but he is worried about being part of another rebuilding season."
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