joakim noah

For the second time in a matter of months, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been linked to a report that he’s recruiting star New York Knicks forward and soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony to move to the Windy City.

On Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Noah has been in contact with Anthony ever since his initial pitch, and even reached out after the Bulls were eliminated by the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs.

Back in February ESPN Chicago published a report that Noah approached Anthony during All-Star Game’s festivities about the possibility of signing with Chicago this summer when he’s expected to opt-out of his current deal with the Knicks.

Noah later denied he was recruiting Anthony, and called all the talk “gossip.” The NBA essentially has no rule that limits players’ interactions, but teams can’t officially recruit a player under contract with another team. It appears Noah is fully utilizing the loophole.

The Sun-Times source even joked about the All-Stars current relationship.

“I was kidding Jo that they were boys now,’’ the source said on Friday. “ ‘Well, get your boy to come to Chicago.’ ’’

Chicago point guard Derrick Rose has missed all but 10 games over the last two years, and his absence has left a huge void in the Bulls offense. Chicago was last in the NBA with 93.7 points per game during the regular season, and was worse in the postseason with 90 average points in five games against Washington, including 69 points in the final game of the series.

Noah, named the Defensive Player of the Year following a stellar season with 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, has evidently asked other Bulls to help convince Anthony. However, in order to bring the career 25.3 points per game scorer in the fold, the Bulls may have to ask Anthony to take a pay cut of roughly $5 to $8 million per season while sacrificing young forward Taj Gibson in a sign-and-trade with the Knicks.

Other than average salary, unless a sign-and-trade is employed Anthony would also have to give up an extra year and $30 million should he decide to depart the confines of Madison Square Garden.

One option that allows the Bulls to keep Gibson involves using the NBA’s amnesty clause on the remaining $16.8 million season left on forward Carlos Boozer’s contract. Yet the Bulls are reportedly wary of using the clause.

The Knicks of course have remained adamant that they intend and believe they will re-sign Anthony this summer, with newly hired team president Phil Jackson stating Anthony is willing to take a pay cut in order to free up cap space.

With $91.2 million devoted to salaries next season, the Knicks are more than $20 million over the salary cap, leaving no wiggle room outside of the possible trade of center Tyson Chandler or guard Iman Shumpert for the team to improve via free agency. The Knicks also don’t have a first-round draft pick in next month’s loaded draft, which was sent to Denver as part of the trade to acquire Anthony in 2011.