Knicks better than last year? Melo says so

NEW YORK -- Apparently, Carmelo Anthony isn’t buying into the hype surrounding the Brooklyn Nets.

Many NBA observers believe that, on paper, the Nets have enough talent to leapfrog the Knicks in the Eastern Conference this season.

But Anthony said Tuesday at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that the Knicks will be better in 2013-14 than they were last season, when they won 54 games and an Atlantic Division title.

“We were the ... 2-seed last year," Anthony said. “And I think nobody expected that. This year we expect to do the same thing. I actually see this team being better than last year. I won’t get into all the details [behind his reasoning]. But that’s just my opinion, that’s the way that we feel. And if we feel that way as a unit, then there’s nothing that can come between us.”

The Knicks re-signed J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni, and added Andrea Bargnani via trade and Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih via free agency in the offseason.

The Bulls will add a healthy Derrick Rose this season. Indiana acquired Luis Scola and will get Danny Granger back. The Nets acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and signed Jason Kidd as head coach. Therefore, many see the Knicks, on paper at least, as the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference.

There has been plenty of chatter between the Knicks and Nets this summer about which team is the best in New York. Anthony, a Brooklyn native, said Tuesday that he’s looking forward to the East River Rivalry this season.

“I love it," Anthony said. “I think it’s a great for sports. I think it’s great for New York. I think it’s great for us as a Knicks organization to have somebody we can compete with on a consistent basis four times a year, I think that's going to be the best rivalry in basketball for a long, long time."

Anthony, who grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn and was raised in Baltimore, thinks the younger generation of basketball fans in Brooklyn will root for the Nets.

“We all know from the Jackie Robinson days, that was the last time we actually had something to believe in,” Anthony said. “Now, with the young kids that are coming up these days, that’s their team. They grow up under the Brooklyn Nets and that’s their team.”

He added: “It’s going to be a funny thing to see the kids growing up there, how they convert from Knicks fans to Nets fans. The household might be Knicks fans and the kids might be Nets fans, so it’s a rivalry everywhere, in the households, on the basketball courts, in the streets, in the boroughs. It’s everywhere, and it makes it fun for the game.”

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Audio provided by ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.