WASHINGTON - Carmelo Anthony said he knew it was going to be a rebuilding year when he signed a $124-million contract with the Knicks in July.
What he never imagined is that by early January, the Knicks would have the worst record in the NBA, two of his closest friends would get traded and his sore left knee would be giving him so much trouble that he might have to start thinking about surgery or prolonged rest as an option.
Anthony, who was slated to miss his fourth straight game Wednesday night because of knee pain, told reporters before the team's morning shootaround that he has not talked to Knicks president Phil Jackson since the Knicks made the three-team deal on Monday that sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland. Nor did he talk with Jackson about the trade before it happened.
Still, as hard as it is for him to lose his friends, he said he has to keep the faith that the organization is on the right track.
"When I first committed back in New York, I said I have to trust that these guys know what they're doing and believe in those guys," Anthony said. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to come back. Here's the opportunity with the trust. Everything starts now."
Despite the dismantling of the roster and the fact that the Knicks entered Wednesday night's game having lost 22 of their last 23 games, Anthony said he is hoping to be able to play next Thursday when the team takes on the Milwaukee Bucks in London. If the knee is still bothering him then, however, he indicated that he may have to take more drastic measures.
"I thought these two weeks would really help me out, just as far as seeing if rest is the issue or I need to take proper precautions and get something done," Anthony said.
Anthony likened the injury to an "annoying pebble in your shoe" as far as it sometimes bothers him and sometimes doesn't. He said he has had a number of "MRIs and scans" since the pain started in the second game of the season. It is expected that eventually he will need a surgical procedure to address it. The only question is the timetable.
It wasn't just the knee, however, that had Anthony in a somber mood Wednesday. Talking for the first time since the trade happened, the seven-time All-Star painted a chaotic picture of the Knicks' locker room on Monday night when news of the deal first surfaced.
Anthony said he was working out on his own in Memphis when both Shumpert and Smith came to find him and bring him to the visitor's locker room.
"It was hard for me to come in that locker room," Anthony said. "It was a state of confusion not really knowing what was going on. Shock. I had a chance to calm them down.
"Them guys was really hurt. I had to calm them down and let them know everything was going to be all right from their standpoint. They had to move on and get past this. It was more upsetting from a friendship standpoint than a basketball standpoint. They understood the business of basketball."
And so does Anthony, though he admits he never thought he would see the team in such a bleak situation.
"It's hard to see that," Anthony said. "It's easy to see it [now], cause it's obvious and apparent. But it's hard to see it for me."
Notes & quotes: The Knicks waived the three players acquired in the three-way deal -- former Oklahoma City forward Lance Thomas and former Cavaliers Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson. As soon as that went through, they were expected to sign D-League Westchester guard Langston Galloway to a 10-day contract. He is with the team in Washington.