(Reuters) - Prolific scorer Carmelo Anthony is hammering out the final details on a contract to return to the New York Knicks, media reports said on Saturday.
Anthony, who averaged 27.4 points last season for the Knicks and is the biggest free agent on the market following Friday’s decision by LeBron James to sign with Cleveland, was expected to make an announcement as soon as Sunday, reports said.
Another top free agent, Pau Gasol, said he was leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join the Chicago Bulls, who had also pursued Anthony.
Anthony, a seven-time All-Star, could sign a five-year contract with New York for as much as $129 million under NBA rules, but he may elect to take less in order to give the Knicks more room under the salary cap to improve the team by shopping for other free agents.
Anthony, 30, became a free agent by opting out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him more than $23 million next season.
He had been hotly pursued by several teams including the Bulls, who were only able to offer him four years and $75 million due to their salary cap situation.
James, meanwhile, flew to Brazil for Sunday’s World Cup final between Germany and Argentina.
“It’s a really exciting time for myself. I am ready for the challenge,” he said in his first public comments since announcing he would be going back to Cleveland.
The four-time NBA most valuable player did not address reports about the terms of his deal, which ESPN said was worth $42.1 million over two years.
According to ESPN, James opted for a short-term deal so he could maximize his earning potential by re-signing for the 2016-17 season after the NBA has signed a new television deal which is expected to boost player salaries.
The Cavaliers, still building a supporting cast for James, added center Brendan Haywood and the draft rights to forward Dwight Powell from the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.
The Hornets will receive guard Scotty Hopson and cash.
Free agent forward Gasol announced his move to the Bulls on Twitter.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Gasol tweeted. “After meditating it a lot I’ve chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career.”
Gasol, 34, had been with the Lakers for the past six seasons and recently turned down two contract offers to stay.
He averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season when he made $19 million.
In other moves, the Utah Jazz have retained Gordon Hayward after matching the Hornets’ four-year, $63 million offer sheet.
Hayward, 24, averaged career highs of 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season for the Jazz.
Free agent shooting guard Vince Carter signed with the Memphis Grizzlies after spending three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.
The Phoenix Suns confirmed the acquisition of point guard Isaiah Thomas in a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. The 5-foot-9 Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists for the Kings last season.
In return, Sacramento receives the rights to forward Alex Oriakhi, Phoenix’s second-round draft pick a year ago, and gets a $7 million trade exemption.
The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs announced they had re-signed Australian guard Patty Mills despite a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that will sideline him for six months.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although local reports said Mills signed for three years.
Mills averaged 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a key member of San Antonio’s deep bench, ranking seventh in the league in three-point field goal percentage.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York and Gene Cherry in Raleigh; Editing by Ian Ransom