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Arron Afflalo happily signs on to play with Carmelo Anthony again

Denver Nuggets Arron Afflalo (6) laughs as he

Denver Nuggets Arron Afflalo (6) laughs as he heads to a time out in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game in Cleveland on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. At left is the Denver Nuggets' Kenyon Martin (4). Credit: AP / Amy Sancetta

LAS VEGAS - Arron Afflalo has had many roles in his eight NBA seasons, from defensive stopper to first option on offense. And one that he wanted to reprise was playing off Carmelo Anthony.

Afflalo got his wish. The veteran shooting guard signed a two-year, $16-million contract with the Knicks last week, reuniting with Anthony, his former Denver teammate for 1 1/2 seasons.

"My game continuously got better with him," Afflalo said. "He drew a lot of attention [away] from me back then and got me a lot of open shots. So I'm looking forward to that again."

It's been roughly 4 1/2 years since the two played together, but Afflalo doesn't think it will take long to regain chemistry.

"I think it's going to be good," he said. "He's competitive. He wants to win. I'm right there in line with him. We used to spend a lot of time together in the offseason. I would hang out with him in L.A. with his family. We would be up at UCLA in the practice gym together. It's going to be fun.

"I don't want to create false expectations or high expectations, but I'm really looking forward to the start of this year."

It had been reported that Anthony called and recruited free agents, something general manager Steve Mills said himself. When Afflalo was asked if Anthony called him before or after he signed, he said no. But he was laughing each time he answered, so he might have been hiding something.

Anthony hasn't spoken publicly since the Knicks revamped their roster, signing Afflalo, Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams and acquiring Kyle O'Quinn in a sign-and-trade.

The Knicks believe they are building the team the right way, including draft picks Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant.

Afflalo, who has a player option for the second year of his deal, will be a very important part of the Knicks next season. He's 6-5, has the length and defensive mentality on the wing to be successful in the triangle and has proved himself as a consistent scorer.

The year after Anthony left Denver, Afflalo averaged 15.2 points and shot 39.8 percent from three-point range. Two seasons later, he produced a career-high 18.2 points and knocked down 42.8 percent of his three-pointers.

"Obviously, coming off last season, the team had a lot of needs," Afflalo said. "They made me a priority in terms of what they felt I can do offensively and defensively. Just being able to lock in and defend my position at the two guard. It felt like it was a good fit.

"From my rookie year on, I've had different roles," he added. "I was the defensive guy in Detroit. In my first year in Denver, I was the defensive stopper. Then I became more of a leader when Melo got traded here. Then I was the leading scorer in Orlando.

"I've had a lot of different roles and been asked to do a lot of different things. To be honest with you, I'm comfortable with it all. I want to be as impactful as possible on both ends. Whatever Coach asks me, I want to be able to do it."

Afflalo said he was interested in playing only for the Knicks. He wanted to be shipped to them before the February trade deadline, but instead went from Denver to Portland.

After meeting with the Knicks, he canceled his meetings with other teams. Afflalo said the Knicks "didn't have to do too much recruiting." He listened to the pitch from team president Phil Jackson, Mills and coach Derek Fisher and was sold.

"It was all of the above," Afflalo said. "Love the competitiveness of the fan base. Love the competitiveness and the environment of playing in MSG every night, playing with a familiar teammate like Melo and then the winning culture Phil and Steve and everything that they want to bring.

"It was everything I was looking for in an individual opportunity and from a team component. I was truly excited."


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