Melo fired up to open season against Bulls, Cavs: ‘This is the best it’s going to get’

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

Carmelo Anthony is fired up to open the 2014-15 NBA season with back-to-back games against Eastern Conference powers Chicago and Cleveland, but feels no special motivation against Chicago, the team he strongly considered this summer in free agency.

“As people, as men, I respect them,” Anthony said Tuesday at practice. “Some of those guys I know a little bit more than others, but come [Wednesday] night, we’re all fighting for the same thing, which is a championship and it starts tomorrow. I’m going to speak to them…but when it’s time to go to war, it’s time to go to war.”

The Bulls offered Anthony about $70 million in free agency because of salary-cap restrictions, but he ended up signing a five-year, $124-million deal to remain in New York.

Anthony admitted that learning the triangle offense under first-year coach Derek Fisher will be a process, but dismissed critics who say the Knicks won’t make the playoffs for a second straight season. FiveThirtyEight.com, for example, has the Knicks going 31-51 and finishing 13th in the East.

“That’s cool, we got work to do then,” he said with a smile. “I’m fine with that, the predictions that other people [have]. I can’t control other people’s opinions but I’m fine with that. We know what we have to do over here.”

To read more of this story, click here

Knicks expect Calderon for season-opener vs. Bulls

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

The Knicks expect to have new point guard Jose Calderon available for Wednesday’s season-opener against the Chicago Bulls, even though Calderon has missed two preseason games with a calf ailment.

“Jose looked really good today,” head coach Derek Fisher said after practice Tuesday. “[On Monday] he did just about everything we did even though we held him out of parts of yesterday’s practice towards the end. Today he was in for everything we did.

“Assuming that he responds well to everything that we did today, we expect him to be available [Wednesday] night.”

Fisher wouldn’t name his starters for the season-opener, but Calderon is expected to start if healthy.

Calderon, acquired in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, holds the keys to the Knicks’ new triangle offense.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable,” Calderon said last week. “I’ll be ready for Wednesday, everybody will be ready for Wednesday and we just gotta go out there and play.”


Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider for NBA.com and SNY.tv. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Can Knicks succeed if J.R. Smith continues to struggle?

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Since the early goings of the preseason, it has been well-noted that as the Knicks struggle to adjust to the triangle offense, J.R. Smith has been among those having the most difficulty.

Of course, having one of the game’s most elite scorers in Carmelo Anthony will help New York’s efforts on the offense end. Having said that, the triangle is supposed to open things up and take more pressure off of the forward on a nightly basis.

Perhaps one burning question, as the regular season begins, is can the team still manage to be successful if Anthony fails to receive sufficient support on that end of the floor? Of course, such help on offense would appear to begin with Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer in each of the last two seasons.

USATSI_8130884_110579513_lowresAs someone who likes to beat opponents off the dribble in hopes of creating his own offense, Smith is undoubtedly a player who happens to thrive while taking advantage of various scoring opportunities. The veteran guard is not used to serving as a facilitator and getting his teammates involved.

Will New York be able to overcome Smith’s expected shortcomings? Who else will they turn to?

As the team spreads the floor and keeps respective defenses honest by positioning multiple players to cash in on long-range shots, any other player not named Carmelo Anthony stands to provide a scoring boost on any given night. Before sitting out the final two games of the preseason, Jose Calderon appeared surprisingly aggressive in going to the basket and looking to score the ball. Iman Shumpert has looked increasingly explosive with an extra pep in his step offensively, and could finally be primed to average double-digits this season.

The Knicks’ starting backcourt will receive more opportunities as Anthony and co. continue to move the basketball. As far as the bench goes, Amar’e Stoudemire has proven to be able to pour in the points while playing on the second unit. Such a role is one he’s ready to accept once again if so desired. He could certainly fill a potential void left by Smith.

To read more of this story, click here

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Stoudemire ready to embrace 6th Man role; may endorse wine companies

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

Amar’e Stoudemire only started one of the Knicks’ six preseason games and he says he’s ready to accept whatever role head coach Derek Fisher gives him, including coming off the bench.

“I know whatever the situation is, I’m learning three different positions, as far as the power forward, the center and perimeter player, so it’s very versatile on my end, too, so I’m ready to utilize my skill in whatever it is, a starting role or a sixth man role,” Stoudemire said Monday after practice.

Stoudemire has said throughout the preseason he’s healthy and looking forward to playing in every game.

“I take my game very serious whether I’m starting or coming off the bench,”  Stoudemire said. “And whatever’s best for the team — if we’re winning then so be it. If not, then we’ll figure something out.”

Stoudemire, playing in the final year of a five-year, $100-million deal, said his only limitations are needing a recovery day after “long practices or if we have back-to-back games.”

He said he can play the first set of back-to-back games against Chicago Wednesday and in Cleveland Thursday.

“I’m ready to go,” he said. “My body feels strong enough to play and I’m ready to go.” To read more of this story, click here

Carmelo Anthony would have loved to play with Kobe Bryant

Sam Spiegelman

It came down to the Knicks, Bulls and Lakers for Carmelo Anthony, who ultimately chose to remain in New York during his brief stint as a free agent this offseason.

His decision to remain with the Knicks instead of heading out to Hollywood to team up with Kobe Bryant had nothing to do with Bryant.

Asked by ESPN New York if there was any hesitation about playing alongside Bryant, Anthony adamantly refuted the notion. In fact, Anthony said he’d love to play with him.

“Hell no. Of course not,” Anthony told ESPN. “If I thought that (playing for the Lakers) was the right situation for me from an overall perspective as far as having a team there, then I would have looked at that situation more in-depth. I just felt more comfortable staying here in New York. But as far as playing with him … I’m here now but I would always love to play with Kobe.”

Last week, ESPN The Magazine quoted agents and NBA personnel that the Lakers were unable to attract marquee free agents because of their resistance to play with Kobe. In fact, one of the most high-profile players to leave the Lakers, Dwight Howard, was reportedly not enamored with playing with the future Hall of Famer.

Anthony would have welcomed the idea of playing with Bryant, unlike Howard, who wanted to be the alpha player on his team.

The Lakers were the only team aside from the Knicks to offer Anthony a full maximum-level deal.