Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo (r.) are pals going back to their time in Denver together.
Here’s a fact that speaks to the turnover since Phil Jackson’s takeover: Nobody on the roster has played with Carmelo Anthony more than Arron Afflalo, who signed with the Knicks less than a month ago.
Their 1½ seasons together in Denver, with Anthony trying to force his way out of the organization for much of that time, created a bond that Afflalo believes was instrumental to his arrival in New York.
“He’s a big part of me getting here,” Afflalo said Wednesday after an appearance at the New York Knicks Summer Basketball Camp at Pace University.
Afflalo implied the Knicks used Anthony as a reference, and said, “I know they value his opinion in the organization.” The 29-year-old Afflalo signed a two-year, $ 16 million deal to serve as the Knicks’ veteran wing.
“(Anthony’s) a friend of mine so we spoke and that’s as far as it needs to go,” he said. “I’m still a person that can make his own decisions but, no, he’s very happy that I’m here and spoke highly of me when asked. That’s all you can ask for.”
There’s reason to doubt how much Anthony actually swayed the Knicks, considering an acknowledgement last month from Jackson that he hadn’t spoken to his star during free agency.
Afflalo, though, has certainly been in contact with Anthony, who is entering his second straight season as the only player on the roster with an All-Star appearance. Careful to clarify that he doesn’t want to speak for Anthony, Afflalo added that his friend is enthusiastic about the season. The two have worked out together in New York and Las Vegas.
Arron Afflalo, who signed a two-year deal with the Knicks, says Carmelo ‘spoke highly of me.’
“From our conversations and the way he’s working in the gym, I’d say so,” he said.
In their only full season together in the starting lineup, Anthony and Afflalo won 53 games with the Nuggets − and then lost in the first round of the playoffs. Afflalo has since developed into more of an offensive threat, averaging about 15 points per game over the last five seasons.
“I was a little bit of a different player back then,” Afflalo said. “But Melo is a guy who draws so much attention. And now that I feel like I’m more confident, more effective on the court, I’m just going to feel it’s going to be twice as good. I’m extremely excited to play with him. I know he’s excited that I’m here. And we’re going to make it work.”
Afflalo had been on the Knicks’ radar since at least the trade deadline, when Jackson told ESPN that he was “interested” in dealing for the UCLA product. Afflalo was also keen on joining the Knicks before signing the two-year deal.
“I’ve watched a lot of film (on the triangle),” he said. “I anticipated wanting to play for New York. I was even watching triangle film before I even signed with New York just in hopes of. I’m very excited. I feel like I could be very effective within the offense.”
The Knicks are finalizing a two-year deal with 2014 second-round pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo, sources confirmed to the Daily News. Antetokounmbo, the older brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis, played for the Knicks’ D-League affiliate last season after turning down a $ 550,000 contract to play overseas. The 23-year-old small forward was chosen 51st overall by the Knicks in 2014. He also played on their summer league squad last month.
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