Knicks targeting Melo-Gasol combo

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The New York Knicks are increasingly optimistic about their chances of re-signing star free agent Carmelo Anthony even as Anthony readies himself to talk to other teams next week, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that Knicks officials, while not willing to trumpet it publicly with free agency fast approaching, are quietly confident about their odds of retaining Anthony thanks in part to the idea that new team president Phil Jackson and the high-scoring forward have "connected" to some degree.

One source close to the process told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, furthermore, that Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks' front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.

Time will tell if the Knicks' internal confidence when it comes to retaining their All-Star proves justified, given that Anthony opted out of the final year of his contract at $23.3 million - with Jackson urging him to opt in -- and will soon be courted face-to-face by a handful of top teams in big cities.

The 30-year-old officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. and, as ESPN.com reported earlier this week, is planning to go on visits or hold meetings with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers all before the Fourth of July holiday. It also must be noted, as July 1 draws near, that the Bulls and Rockets have likewise been radiating no shortage of positivity about their chances of stealing Anthony away from the Knicks this month.

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