LAS VEGAS - Phil Jackson is closing in on his first target, but his second one got away.
Carmelo Anthony will announce Sunday that he's returning to the Knicks, according to a source. But Pau Gasol announced on Twitter Saturday that he's signing with the Bulls.
It was a long shot for the Knicks to sign Gasol because they were limited in what they could spend. They had only the $3.2-million taxpayer midlevel exception, which would have been about a $16-million pay cut from last season for Gasol.
Jackson was trying to make moves to clear money to pay Gasol more, but he said nothing was brewing and that he didn't expect to be able to do that.
It wasn't immediately clear what Gasol would sign for with the Bulls, who had some moves to make to clear salaries. They were the Knicks' biggest threat for Anthony, but without a sign-and-trade agreement, the Bulls could give Anthony only about $70 million to $75 million for four years, approximately $50 million less than what he is expected to get in his five-year deal with the Knicks.
Kenyon Martin never believed Anthony would leave the Knicks anyway.
Martin, who has played with Anthony with the Nuggets and Knicks, said his longtime teammate's heart is in New York.
"I'd have been surprised if he left, to be honest," Martin said before the Knicks' summer league team played Saturday afternoon. "But he's a winner, man. He's a competitor. I don't think he wants people speaking ill about him like they have in the past. He wants to bring a championship to New York."
Anthony forced a trade to the Knicks in February 2011, making him unpopular in Denver. He's also been characterized as a selfish player.
But Anthony has reached the postseason in 10 of his 11 NBA seasons. He was an MVP candidate two seasons ago when he led the NBA in scoring at 28.7 points per game and led the Knicks to 54 wins and their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years.
Anthony reportedly might take less than a maximum five-year, $129-million contract to re-sign with the Knicks, which would give them a little more room to sign other players next summer.
Martin, 36, is a free agent and hopes to return to the Knicks. He had a procedure to clean out his left ankle, which hampered him most of last season. Martin played only 32 games but said he feels much better and should be on the court in the next month.
Martin also said one of the things on his "list of things to do" is to speak to Jackson about coming back.
"Definitely," he said. "I'm comfortable here. Me and Melo got a lot of history. So of course it's where I would love to play. I'm not done by any stretch of the imagination and I would love to be a Knick again. So I'm going to try to make it happen."
Another win. Derek Fisher is 2-0 as a coach after the Knicks' summer league team edged Portland, 71-69. Newly acquired Shane Larkin hit the winning basket with 28.4 seconds left. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 20 points. Rookie Cleanthony Early, the 34th overall selection in the 2014 NBA draft, added 11 points.
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