MONTREAL - Carmelo Anthony will be in the Knicks' opening-night starting lineup for the fourth straight season. He's the only player who can say that.
The Knicks' roster is constantly in a state of flux. Anthony would like to see that change and for there to be more stability. Maybe next season.
"As a team, you can't change every year,'' he said. "I think you have to have some type of consistency, some type of stability when it comes to actually building a basketball team. You got to have a foundation and then you add the pieces that you need here and there. But I don't think you can keep changing every year.''
The Knicks, who ended the preseason at 3-4 with an 83-80 loss to the Raptors Friday night at the Bell Centre, will have another roster shakeup before next season. They have eight players on expiring contracts, and it's possible that none of them will return.
Team president Phil Jackson will try to make in-season trades to improve the roster, and if the Knicks maintain their flexibility for free agency, they're expected to make runs at Marc Gasol this summer and Kevin Durant in 2016.
With the opener four days away, Derek Fisher said he's leaning toward starting Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert, Anthony, Jason Smith and Samuel Dalembert against Chicago. Calderon, Dalembert and Smith were acquired in the offseason. Only Anthony and Calderon are signed for next season, so the starting five will be almost completely different a year from now.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get there,'' said Anthony, who had 24 points and didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Counting the 15 guys expected to be on the opening-night roster, Anthony will have had 51 different teammates since he forced a trade to the Knicks in February 2011. The Knicks have made the playoffs three times but got out of the first round only once. Jackson's job is to change that and give the Knicks the needed stability that consistent playoff teams and contenders have.
The Knicks don't have much stability in their projected starting team, though. That five hasn't started or played one second together this preseason. Calderon missed his second straight game to rest his strained calf, so Shane Larkin ran the point. Calderon, Shumpert, Anthony and Dalembert have started three games together. Smith has started the last two.
"Over the next [few] days, hopefully we'll be able to get some more work in and get that group of guys comfortable playing with each other,'' Fisher said.
Not long ago, the Knicks believed Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler were a strong nucleus and could do damage, but that never materialized. Now Chandler is a Maverick and Stoudemire could be in his final season as a Knick.
"Every year it's a different frontcourt for me,'' Anthony said. "So I'm used to it. Hopefully now I'll be in a situation where we can get some stability from that standpoint.''
Maybe next season.
Notes & quotes: J.R. Smith, who said "it's a struggle" to adjust his game to the triangle offense, shot 1-for-11. Larkin had a costly turnover in the closing seconds when the Knicks had a chance to take the lead. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a three-point heave at the buzzer . . . Anthony said he likes that the Knicks open the season with a back-to-back against the Bulls and Cavaliers -- LeBron James' first game back in Cleveland. "As a player, as an athlete, you should want those moments, you should embrace those moments,'' he said. "When I saw the schedule, I was pretty thrilled and excited.'' . . . The Knicks waived D.J. Mbenga and Orlando Sanchez.