NEW YORK -- New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told ESPN on Monday that his recruitment of marquee free agent Kevin Durant has already begun and will not be affected "whether [Durant] meets with the Knicks or not."
"I'm with KD now; he's right downstairs," Anthony told ESPN. "We've been together. We've been talking.
"I do consider myself part of the Knicks," Anthony continued, "so that meeting has already taken place."
Durant has been in New York for several days in advance of Monday afternoon's official unveilng of the 12-man squad that will represent USA Basketball at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
That has given Anthony and Durant an opportunity to work out together in recent days and likewise afforded Anthony a chance to start selling Durant on the merits of the Knicks.
"We're friends. We hang out," Anthony said. "It's magnified now because he's a free agent and we're in New York. But last year, nobody was talking about us hanging out, going to work out or going to dinner or things like that. So, yeah, those conversations do come up, but it's not something that I'm constantly on him, throwing at him, because I was in that situation before."
Free agency doesn't officially start until Friday at 12:01 a.m., but the league office typically does not police such player interactions, since Anthony and Durant are obviously longtime friends who stay in frequent contact during the season.
"Melo has been my friend since I have been in high school. We talk about everything," Durant said. "That is like my big brother right there. The best thing about all of us, none of the guys here have put any type of pressure. It has been cool."
To date, only five teams besides the incumbent Oklahoma City Thunder have secured face-to-face recruiting meetings with Durant and his agent Rich Kleiman for the first few days of free agency at an undisclosed location: Golden State, San Antonio, Miami, Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers.
"You know, for me, it's more just about just laying it all out for him," Anthony said, "giving him the real.
"Being in that situation before and knowing how much he has to think about and what he has go through, him not wanting to leave Oklahoma [after] all the time that he spent there, I felt the same way when I was in Denver, spending 7½ years there and then to have to make a decision. But you leave it up to him. He's going to make the best decision for him. I think that's the most important thing."
As for the Knicks' trade last week to acquire Derrick Rose from Chicago, Anthony expressed great confidence that he and the former MVP will mesh, telling ESPN, "We're ballplayers. We're competitors. We want to win. I know he wants to win. I've talked to him. I've watched him over the years. I've seen how hungry he worked to come back from his injuries.
"I'm hungry," Anthony added. "I'm starving right now. Like I said, I'm starting to feel better. I feel healthy. We have some more work to do, but I'm looking forward to playing with him."
Anthony also says he feels more sure about the direction of the club following the Rose trade.
"I feel a little bit more confident now that we actually made that move, made that decision," Anthony said. "It shows me they are looking at now, and not the future just yet. The time is now. We have to capitalize on what we have right now. Of course, the front office also has to look at the big picture, but the time is now."
Durant, 27, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Thunder franchise. He averaged 28.2 points per game last season and led the Thunder to within one victory of the NBA Finals.
On Monday, Durant told ESPN that he has "been ready" for his looming free agency and that having "fun" ranks high on his priorities for choosing a team.
"I'm ready for it all," Durant said. "Since I was a kid, I've been ready for everything that comes with being an NBA player. So [I] try to take that approach and take it a day at a time. ...
"I want to have fun playing ball. That's just my main concern, and that's always been my main concern. But I'm locked in on Team USA, man. Just trying to shift my focus back and forth, from that [free agency] stuff to being on the USA team. I just wanna have fun playing ball."
Many of the questions directed at Durant on Monday centered on his thoughts about the Knicks. Durant wouldn't say whether he'd scheduled a meeting with the club. But he did offer his thoughts on the makeup of the roster.
"They obviously have a good team now with D-Rose, Melo and Porzingis. Like I said, I am going to talk to my team and we will figure things out, but right now, it is kind of hard to say," he said.
ESPN staff writers Ian Begley and Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.