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Bulls acquire Carmelo Anthony from Rockets but plan to release him

Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony, left, drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls forward Justin Holiday during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It took almost five years, but the Bulls finally landed forward Carmelo Anthony.

A source Monday confirmed a report that the Bulls acquired Anthony and cash from the Rockets for a heavily protected second-round draft pick.

Anthony is unlikely to play for the Bulls, however. The source indicated the Bulls will release Anthony, allowing him to go through waivers and possibly hit free agency.

So why even make the deal, which will become official once the NBA offices reopen Tuesday?

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It allows the Rockets to get some salary-cap relief and the Bulls to get some cash. The pick the Bulls are dealing is so heavily protected that it likely never will make its way to the Rockets.

The teams also were expected to swap the draft rights of international players, which in the end might see the Bulls pull in just less than $1 million.

A money grab? Definitely, but this is what life is like for a rebuilding NBA team. It’s a dumping ground for bad contracts, bad players, loopholes in the system and doing whatever it takes to collect draft assets and cash for when the team thinks the rebuild has taken hold.

If the Bulls don’t release Anthony, they could hold on to him and see whether there is a taker for his services before the trade deadline Feb. 7. They also could try to package him if it means taking on another player with an expiring contract and adding another draft pick.

The Bulls have been trying to trade center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker, but sources indicated the market was quiet for both players.

The kicker in all of this is that it didn’t take Derrick Rose showing up for a recruitment dinner for the Bulls to land Anthony. The most memorable thing about the Bulls’ recruitment of Anthony in 2014 was how uncooperative Rose was in it. That included not showing up for a dinner meant to lure Anthony to the team.

Rose defended himself years later, insisting he did play a part in the recruitment by making a video. The problem was, the video was put together by the Bulls and featured all the key players on the roster.