GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The final practice of the preseason ended, and Carmelo Anthony, sweat dripping down his face, stood against the wall, discussing what could be and not what could have been.
His 12th NBA season and Derek Fisher's first as an NBA coach begin Wednesday night when the Knicks host a team Anthony rejected in free agency over the summer.
The Bulls come into Madison Square Garden as a legitimate championship contender, provided former MVP Derrick Rose stays healthy. The Knicks, coming off a 37-45 campaign, believe they're a playoff team even if few think that outside of their locker room.
"We're fighting for the same thing, which is a championship and it starts [tonight]," Anthony said. "I'll speak to them. I'm a cordial guy, but when it's time to go to war, it's time to go to war."
The start of another season -- the Knicks' 42nd since they last won an NBA championship -- also is the beginning of a new era for the franchise.
Team president Phil Jackson and Fisher are in charge and they seem to have convinced Anthony to commit to playing the selfless style of basketball that made them champions over and over again.
That well-paid triangle probably matters more than the one the Knicks plan to run on the floor, especially if Anthony, who re-signed for five years and $124 million, is on board. And he appears to be. "I'm comfortable in the fact that I know I'm going to get better with what we're trying to do," Anthony said. "I'm comfortable in the fact that it's uncomfortable for a lot of people on our team because it's something new. As far as me, I'm very comfortable in this challenge, and this journey. I look forward to this season, to be honest with you."
The Knicks, who are in Cleveland tomorrow for LeBron James' first game back with the Cavaliers, have seven new faces and three new starters.
Anthony and other Knicks keep saying they have to be patient with the system and with each other. Yet they expect to prove doubters wrong and that they're one of the top eight teams in the East.
"We want to see ourselves in a playoff situation at the end of this season," Jackson told Bulls.com. "I think we are underrated; I think we are rated lower than we are going to be."
When Anthony was told the Knicks weren't thought highly of outside of the organization, he shrugged it off.
"It's cool; we got work to do then," Anthony said. "I can't control other people's opinions, but I'm fine with that. We know what we have to do over here."
Fisher said new point guard Jose Calderon, who missed the last two preseason games with a calf strain, likely would start Wednesday night. Iman Shumpert is expected to get the assignment of trying to slow down Rose. They'll worry about James after that.
"This is an amazing opportunity," Fisher said. "The excitement in the city. The future of our team and where we possibly can go with so many new faces. We're excited to get this started."
Notes & quotes: The Knicks picked up the $1.3-million third-year option on Tim Hardaway Jr.'s contract, and now have five players with guaranteed deals next season. They have until Friday to exercise Shane Larkin's third-year option, but it appears they will opt for the additional cap room. Friday also is the deadline to extend Shumpert's contract, which they are not expected to do . . . Pablo Prigioni (sore lower back) is probable Wednesday night. Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) is out.