Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks needed Joakim Noah's intensity

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony has played against Joakim Noah for nine seasons, so he knows him fairly well. But playing alongside Noah for the first time gave Anthony some new perspective.

"He brings a different dynamic to the court," Anthony said after Noah's first practice with the New York Knicks. "Mentally, he pushes you; he forces you to compete at a high level every time on the basketball court. Everybody. Whether you're the 14th, 15th man on the team, or myself, or Derrick [Rose] or anybody else.

"Like, he pushes you to go out there and compete every play. If not, you're going to hear about. I think that's something we've been missing, this team needed, this organization needed and I like it. We like it."

The Knicks signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million deal over the summer, in part, because of his leadership qualities.

The Rose trade left a void at center, and Phil Jackson believes Noah can fill it as a backbone of the Knicks' defense. Only time will tell if Noah can provide elite rebounding, rim protection and pick-and-roll defense over the course of his contract.

But his intense nature -- which has its own value on and off the court -- was on display in his first training camp practice (Noah missed the first two days due to the birth of his daughter).

"If you're not on his team, you're an enemy," Anthony said. "I think that mentality, that's going to kind of trickle down to everybody else. It's a different mindset that you've got to have coming into the game, going into practice. Even in practice, if you're not on his team, if you're not on the blue or white team with him, you're an enemy. That keeps the competitive edge for everybody out there on the court."

The perfect scenario for the Knicks is Noah remaining healthy, productive and being an influential presence in the locker room. "Jo's [intensity] won't slow down as the year goes on. We hope that's contagious for the rest of our guys," Jeff Hornacek said.

Intangibles aside, there are some question marks for Noah coming into the season. He was limited to just 29 games last year due to a shoulder injury; some observers believe his game had slipped prior to the injury.

Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf added to that theory when he told the Chicago Tribune the following about Noah's departure:

"What we felt was it was time. We felt Joakim wasn't going to be a front-line guy anymore. I was pretty confident that Pau [Gasol] was going to leave. So it was important for us to get the center in [Robin] Lopez."

Noah was asked about the remarks on Wednesday and offered a measured response.

"It's alright. He's entitled to his opinion," Noah said. "I feel like I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me, that's all that matters. I know that I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, you know? But at the end of the day, I have nothing but respect for that organization. I'm just excited for this new chapter in my career."

The Knicks, who ranked 18th in defensive efficiency last season, are certainly excited to have a healthy, productive Noah on the court.

Mindset to beat the Cavs: Noah spent years in Chicago trying to dethrone LeBron James, whether it was against James' Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers teams. Noah said on Wednesday that his focus remains the same in New York.

"It's definitely the goal. It's definitely not an easy task," Noah said when asked about beating the Cavs. "But that's got to be the mindset. We all know what it is. Right now, it goes through him. It goes through that guy. For us to get where we want to get to, we've got to beat that guy."

Hornacek can tweak the triangle: Here's Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek reiterating again that he'll have the freedom to tweak the triangle offense: "We talked a lot about it over the summer. Phil [Jackson's] given us the ability to run it anyway we want, how we set it up. We talked what we feel is a good working way to run it with different options. We'll get to all those as the year progresses, but it should be pretty easy." Jackson has told Hornacek that it's important to allow the players to feel creative in the triangle alignment, which the Knicks will use to space the floor in half-court sets.

"I think maybe the previous teams here were trying to learn it, trying to do it right," Hornacek said. "Phil always stresses to me that you got to let these guys be creative. They're out there on the court. I think the same way. When I played, coaches were saying the same thing. It's putting a little bit on them, little bit more to not go crazy and not make bad shots. But we're giving them the ability to do different things out of it. As long as they stay in that spacing."

Hornacek has made it clear that he'd also like to increase the Knicks' pace, and hopefully give them more opportunities to score in transition. The Knicks ranked last in the NBA in fast-break points per game last season (8), per NBA.com.

"We want to be that team that come the end of games, fourth quarters, can really execute plays (in the half-court offense). But the majority of the game, if we can get five, six easy buckets a game just by pushing the ball, that’s a big advantage. So that’s what we’re trying to do," the coach said.