Jim Boeheim respects Carmelo Anthony's loyalty to Knicks

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks smiles after a Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks smiles after a basket against the Nets at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim thinks Carmelo Anthony should have signed with the Bulls and believes that Phil Jackson's presence and vision helped keep him in a Knicks uniform.

Before free agency arrived in July, Boeheim was outspoken in saying that Anthony, who led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship, should go to the team that would give him the best chance to win a title. Along with the Knicks, the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers pursued him in free agency.

Chicago is considered one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference title if Derrick Rose can stay healthy. But Anthony chose to remain with the Knicks, who signed him to a $124-million deal, about $50 million more than the Bulls could offer.

"I think the bottom line is he wanted to stay in New York and I think they will be significantly better this year," Boeheim, an assistant on the national team, said after practice Monday at the U.S. Military Academy.

"I respect what he did. I think he did show loyalty. He likes New York. They brought him in. They gave up a lot for him and he stuck it out.

"For me, just from a basketball point of view, it would have been better to go to Chicago because they got better players. He wanted to be in New York and he wants to see if they can turn it around there. I think that's a great thing."

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Boeheim said he hasn't spoken to Anthony during free agency or since, but he plans to talk with him this week. The U.S. team is practicing in the area and will play exhibition games at the Garden Wednesday night against the Dominican Republic and Friday versus Puerto Rico.

Boeheim advised Anthony last season to play where he wants and to try to put himself in a winning situation if possible. If the Knicks hadn't hired Jackson to be their president, Boeheim said Anthony probably would have left.

"I would think so," Boeheim said. "He stayed because he believes Phil. Derek Fisher, he knows the game. If you're going to pick a coach who hasn't coached, he would be the guy I would pick. I think he's a great choice. I talked to Derek a little bit. I think he's really smart. I think he'll be a really good coach. I think they'll show significant improvement this year. If they get a couple of guys down the road, I think they'll be good."

Boeheim thinks the Knicks have improved their roster and that their new leadership will lead to "a more consistent approach" next season. They stand to be well under the cap next summer and could be in line to sign multiple star-caliber free agents, including Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.

Boeheim said of Anthony, "I think he would like to see it happen in New York. A lot changes in the NBA. It may take two years, but there's some big jumps in teams in a two-year period. He'll be 31, 32. He's taking care of himself. He's still got at least five good years left, at least. I just hope it works out for him. He's a good kid."

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