September 29, 2014

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) Carmelo Anthony knows the easiest path to a title probably isn't in New York.

Had he gone to play with Derrick Rose in Chicago, or joined Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston, he could have gone into this season with a real chance at a championship. Yet when it came time to decide who he wanted to be with, Anthony passed on those partnerships and chose Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.

He believes they will fix the Knicks and wants to be a part of it - even if it doesn't happen right away.

''So that right there just goes to show you that it wasn't all about running and jumping ship and trying to get something in the immediate future,'' Anthony said Monday. ''I'm willing to be patient. Now how long I'm willing to be patient? I can't really tell you that, but I'm willing to be patient. I'm willing to take risks, I'm willing to take that chance. And for me to just get up and leave like that, now that I look back at it, leading up to my decision, I wouldn't have felt right within myself.''

Anthony could have left as a free agent, and there were plenty of reasons to go. The Knicks went 37-45 last season, the first time Anthony had missed the playoffs in his 11 NBA seasons, and salary cap woes left little ability to upgrade the team quickly. He met with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers in July, and all of them offered better cores, or at least had another superstar in place. The Knicks couldn't offer much beyond the highest possible salary.

''From a basketball standpoint it probably would've been maybe the greatest thing to do, but for me personally I wouldn't have felt right with myself,'' Anthony said, ''knowing that I wanted to come here, I kind of forced my way here to New York and I have some unfinished business to take care of.''

He will get started on that Tuesday at West Point, when the Knicks open their first training camp under rookie coach Fisher. Anthony, appearing confident and at ease, said he feels great physically after some offseason weight loss and ready to fill his role within the triangle offense, having spoken to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant about it.

''My big thing is I want to embrace what Phil and what Derek is doing. I want them to know that I'm in, I'm embracing this challenge,'' Anthony said. ''I know from a being a student of the game and watching, and knowing the history, that it will work. It takes time, nothing happens overnight, but it will work.''

That could depend on how much Anthony's teammates contribute. He was at times the Knicks' only offense last season, when his 27.4 points per game nearly doubled runner-up J.R. Smith's 14.5.

''I think we have to make him feel the most comfortable possible out there with all of us. Try to make him not have to force it every time,'' new point guard Jose Calderon said. ''We cannot just let him do everything, so we've got to be able and ready to help him in every position so it's easier for him.''

Smith could bounce back after saying he didn't feel fully healthy until around the final 30 games last season following knee surgery. Same with Andrea Bargnani, the former No. 1 overall pick who was limited to just 42 games by an elbow injury after being acquired from Toronto.

''Last year was disappointing for everybody, so everybody wants to come back this year stronger and have a very good season,'' Bargnani said.

The Knicks nearly made the postseason even during their miserable 2013-14, finishing a game behind eighth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference. Jackson thinks it will take more victories to secure a spot this season in what appears to be a stronger East.

''As far as putting a number on games, on wins this season, I can't tell you how many wins we're going to have,'' Anthony said. ''I mean, we haven't even opened our first practice yet. But I will tell you that we will have a better season than what we had last year.''

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