While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and amongst the faithful — to practice patience while the Knicks’ new-look roster and coaching staff figure things out.
“We remember how we felt like as a team [last season] and we don’t want to feel that way again. I saw a lot of guys in the offseason and by working with them, you can see the mindset that it might be different,” Anthony said. “But you still have to put that [effort] onto the basketball court. You still have to get better. It still requires some patience ... willing to be patient [for] how long, who knows? But it’s still a process.”
Anthony specifically mentioned the different “vibe” within the facilities now that Derek Fisher is the head coach. Fisher is an NBA champion and respected league-wide.
“Any time you have a new coach, you can just walk through the building and feel that renewed energy,” Anthony said. “Right from the offseason, you could see everybody rejuvenated. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to do right [and] to do what it takes to make a team successful. … We’re all together. We’re all on board.”
The Knicks brought many new faces on board, with as many as six newbies who could make the final roster.
Point guard Jose Calderon, center Samuel Dalembert, forward Quincy Acy and swingman Travis Outlaw all came over via trade, and all will be required to play extended minutes this year.
And although he’s never run the Triangle, Calderon may be the biggest key of them all since he’s the man responsible for making sure order is restored on the floor — something his predecessor, Raymond Felton, failed to do. The veteran lead guard is also responsible for making sure everyone is in their right spots in an offense that’s based off ball movement, player motion and spacing.
“I think I’m a good fit, because [the Triangle] suits my game. This offense helps everyone, because it makes scoring as easy as possible and it’s good in getting guys open looks. If you’re open, then shoot,” said Calderon. “It’s good for sharing, but it’s also good for a guy like Melo, because it opens up a lot. Having a great scorer like him makes everything easier, but at the same time it won't make him do everything. ... We want to make things easier for Melo.”
J.R. Smith rarely made anything easier for the coaches he’s played for during his Knicks tenure. But the 10-year veteran vowed to be a better teammate and leader.
“I feel like this year it’s a clean slate. It’s definitely a clean slate because there’s nothing hanging over my head like a suspension or injury,” Smith noted. “Now, I can focus on being a better leader. And I think this offense will be good for me, because it still allows me to create shots, but also get easier open looks. ... My role is up in the air, but I feel it’ll be different this year because I’m healthy. I didn’t feel all the way healthy last year until like 30 games left in the season.”
Health has been a concern for Amar’e Stoudemire for most of his career in New York. But like Smith, Stoudemire said this past summer had a different feel – and not just because they have a new coach. Stoudemire was adamant this is the healthiest he’s “felt in years” and it was refreshing to actually have a pain-free summer.
“It was good to go through a summer without rehab and to actually focus on ball,” said Stoudemire, who noted he worked extensively with assistant coach Kurt Rambis over the summer on the Triangle’s principles. “I think working with him helped. This offense is great because I think my skill set works well within it. ... Time will tell.”
Time, specifically minutes, have been a bit of a sore spot with Stoudemire. Most of last season, under then-head coach Mike Woodson, was contentious because while Stoudemire thought he was ready for a bigger workload, Woodson erred on the side of caution. But after talking with Fisher and noting he’s “pain free,” the 12-year vet said he, Fisher and the medical staff will “figure out something that works best.”
No longer confined to a minutes count and working on the final year of his deal at a $23.4 million price tag, Stoudemire said he’s ready to put together a great — and possibly final — season in New York by molding everything that’s been taught to him since he’s arrived in the city.
“I’ve learned a lot of different philosophies and techniques,” said Stoudemire. “Whether it was with Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offense, then Woody’s back-to-the-basket and now the Triangle. But I think learning each system has helped me develop. ... I’m ready to help this team compete.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.