Carmelo Anthony sees huge season ahead for Knicks

Carmelo Anthony celebrates after drawing a foul in Carmelo Anthony celebrates after drawing a foul in the fourth quarter of a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Feb. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Carmelo Anthony is more concerned about the upcoming season than his potential free agency next summer.

"It's a big year," Anthony told ESPN.com. "A huge upcoming season for me, as a team and as an organization."

There's been speculation that the Lakers will make a run at Anthony, who can opt out of his contract after this season. But Anthony is happy with the Knicks, and would like to be the player that leads them to their first NBA championship since 1973.

Anthony led the Knicks to 54 wins and their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years last season. But the Knicks were beaten in the second round by Indiana.

The Knicks have made some changes that they hope will provide Anthony help on both ends of the floor and get them deeper into the postseason. They signed Metta World Peace, acquired Andrea Bargnani from Toronto and re-signed J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin.

Anthony was asked whether this season will determine his long-term future as a Knick.

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"I can't do that," Anthony said. "It's too tough right now."

Tough is a word that describes the competition in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat is going for the three-peat. The Nets have undergone a major face-lift and improved dramatically with the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko. Brooklyn also hired onetime Knick Jason Kidd as its coach.

The Bulls should be improved with a healthy Derrick Rose. The Pacers also should be better. Danny Granger is expected back from injury, and Indiana picked up Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and former Knick Chris Copeland.

The Knicks could be better than last season, especially if Amar'e Stoudemire can stay healthy and produce consistently. They already have said he likely will be on a minutes' restriction after undergoing surgeries on both knees last season. The 7-foot Bargnani could cause mismatch problems with his ability to shoot from the perimeter -- if he can stay healthy.

Kidd's presence and leadership will be missed. But the Knicks should be improved defensively overall with the acquisition of World Peace. They also will have Martin from the start of the season. He didn't join the Knicks last year until February.

Anthony is a fan of what the Knicks have done.

"We got [World Peace] and, and I think Bargnani was really a steal for us," Anthony said. "He'll help us spread the floor. We got J.R. back and we kept the core guys together.

"We'll see whether we have enough," Anthony added. "We haven't even stepped on the court yet."

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