GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The pain in his left knee and the anguish from last season are behind Carmelo Anthony. He returned to the Knicks with a positive outlook and the belief that things will be better.
After the worst season in franchise history, the Knicks underwent a major facelift. Anthony watched from afar as he rehabbed from season-ending left knee surgery in February.
Even though Phil Jackson didn't land any stars, Anthony professed his belief in the Knicks' president and the direction of the team yesterday. He's not making any bold predictions about the season, but with training camp tipping off Tuesday at West Point, Anthony, 31, doesn't believe his opportunity to win a championship is dwindling.
"My window's open," he said during the Knicks' annual media day. "I don't think it's closing. For the most part, coming into this year, I think we get a chance to write our own destiny right now. That's a good thing. We can start off fresh, start off with a clean slate.
"We can write whatever story we want to write, whether good or bad. I think guys are excited about that: to have a chance to start off fresh and kind of put the past behind us and move forward."
With Anthony limited to a career-low 40 games, the Knicks went 17-65 last season. It led to Jackson's revamping of the roster, with a focus on defense.
He signed Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, Kyle O'Quinn, Kevin Seraphin and Sasha Vujacic after drafting Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. Only Anthony, Jose Calderon and Cleanthony Early remain from last season's opening-night roster.
It was the second straight summer that Jackson overhauled the team, and it leaves Anthony as the lone player left from the team Jackson inherited in March 2014. Anthony said that means a lot to him, and he doesn't want to let Jackson down.
"I think that's a good thing," Anthony said. "Just to know that -- to see the process that Phil has taken from when he came in to now and for me to be that one guy that's still here and for him -- I think Phil still believes in me. And that goes without even being said, because I'm still here.
"For him to start this process with me, being the centerpiece of this, I respect that and I don't want to let him down because I know that him putting me at the centerpiece of this is very big. I know what we're about to start, what we're about to create, and I'm excited about that."
After what happened last season -- Anthony called it "an experiment" -- the Knicks have tried to get a leg up on building chemistry.
Many of them worked out and scrimmaged with each other in the weeks leading up to camp. Anthony spent time with Porzingis individually, playing one-on-one and trying to teach him the NBA ropes. Anthony said he will be "a big brother" to the 20-year-old Latvian rookie.
For the Knicks to have a chance to become a playoff team, they will need good health and leadership from Anthony, Porzingis developing and the players meshing quickly.
"I think the chemistry has been building already," Calderon said. "We have guys who are professionals, who like to work, and they really like to be here and I think that's important. So I think if we come together, we're going to be a really good basketball team."
Anthony said it's too early to put any expectations on this team, but he thinks there's reason for optimism.
"For the most part, I think we got a great group of guys that already bought in," Anthony said. "Even though we recruited some of these guys, these guys wanted to be a New York Knick. From that standpoint, they bought in already. It's just a matter of translating it onto the basketball court."