'Melo Tour,' Miami suspense spice up free agency period

Thu Jul 3, 2014 1:51pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The 'Melo Tour' heads into Day Three on Thursday, the LeBron James and Miami Heat mystery muddles on and a pair of big-name veterans are sparking interest in the NBA free agency market.

Carmelo Anthony, after initial stops in Chicago, Houston and Dallas, has Los Angeles next on his itinerary and a meeting with the Lakers as the high-scoring forward weighs the options of signing with a new team or returning to the New York Knicks.

While Anthony ponders improving his chances of winning an NBA championship versus the opportunity to earn more money by joining Knicks president Phil Jackson's Madison Square Garden rebuilding program, the future of the Heat hangs in the balance.

When James and fellow 'Big Three' cohorts Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all opted out of their deals with Miami to become free agents on July 1, it was thought the moves signaled a concerted action to accept lower salaries in order to revitalize the roster after being humbled in the NBA Finals by San Antonio.

However, after a South Beach luncheon meeting between James, Wade and Bosh, word emerged that James wanted to be paid the maximum salary and that Wade and Bosh were not prepared to take severe pay cuts in order to free money to add other players.

That leaves the Heat in temporary limbo and casting a wary eye on whether James will be scheduling his own free agent tour to explore options.

SPICING UP   Continued...

Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) dribbles against Carmelo Anthony (7) at Air Canada Centre. Apr 11, 2014;Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports -