Carmelo Anthony won’t let himself second-guess the decision he made during free agency, even though he’d be in a far better situation in the standings had he left for the Chicago Bulls.
Anthony and the struggling New York Knicks visit the United Center on Thursday night for the first time since the seven-time All-Star denied the overtures of the Bulls, who are expected to get Joakim Noah back.
According to recent reports, the 30-year-old forward was leaning toward leaving for Chicago after coming away impressed with the organization and coach Tom Thibodeau following a visit in July.
Anthony also visited the Lakers, Houston and Dallas after terminating the final year of his contract and becoming a free agent. He then opted to stay with New York on a five-year, $124 million deal, when the most the Bulls could offer was $74 million.
While Chicago (15-9) has continued its winning ways and leads the Central Division, the Knicks have stumbled out to the worst 27-game start in franchise history at 5-22.
Anthony says he isn’t questioning his offseason decision as he tries to help New York snap a six-game losing streak in Chicago with only its fourth win in 26 visits.
“I will not allow myself to sway toward the ‘what if I would have gone to this situation or that situation,'” he said. “This is not the situation that I expected or that we expected, but there’s nothing we can do about it as far as what has happened already. We have to focus on tomorrow.”
Anthony has played well despite battling soreness in his left knee, totaling 60 points in back-to-back losses. He finished with 26 to go along with five assists and four steals in Tuesday’s 107-87 home defeat to Dallas.
Anthony, however, has scored 17.3 per game in his last three meetings with the Bulls after he had 14 in a season-opening 104-80 loss at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks, playing without injured guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, have averaged 91.3 points in their last 11.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has scored 17.8 per game over the last four, but he’s missed 23 of 32 shots and gone 1 for 16 from 3-point range in his last two.
Although the Bulls aren’t as strong defensively as they’ve been in the past, they tightened things up in their last two games by limiting Miami and Atlanta to a combined 84.0 points on 39.3 percent shooting.
They could receive a boost on that end of the floor if Noah is able to return after missing the past four games with an ankle injury. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year will try to help Chicago bounce back after its three-game winning streak ended with Monday’s 93-86 road loss to the Hawks.
Jimmy Butler finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Taj Gibson added 15 and 17. Butler missed the first meeting with New York, when Gibson had 22 points and eight rebounds while making 10 of 12 shots.
Derrick Rose scored 14 on 6-of-21 shooting Monday, though he’s totaled 54 points while making 22 of 39 in his last two at home.
“I just didn’t have any lift to (my shots),” Rose said. “I guarantee you next game that won’t happen.”
The Bulls are among the league leaders with an average of 105.6 points at home while New York ranks near the bottom of the NBA with 103.8 allowed per game on the road.