Carmelo Anthony Comments on Dwyane Wade Leaving Heat to Sign with Bulls

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2016

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks greet each other before the opening tipoff at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2015 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was among those who had trouble processing Dwyane Wade's free-agent departure from the Miami Heat to the Chicago Bulls this offseason.

Anthony spoke about Wade's decision to head to his hometown team after 13 seasons with the Heat during Thursday's Team USA practice at the United Center, per ESPN.com's Nick Friedell:

I was shocked. I was shocked more from a standpoint it was just hard to see. It's hard to see some players in different uniforms and he's one of those guys who I never thought I would see in a different uniform other than Miami. But it happened, and I got a chance to talk to him and sit down with him and really dig deep about his feelings and what happened. He's at peace now. And when he's at peace, I'm at peace with it.

Wade and Anthony are close friends, comprising half of a tightly knit NBA superstar quartet that also features LeBron James and Chris Paul. The four made a powerful statement in speaking out on gun violence to start the ESPYs earlier this month.

Strong as their ties are away from the court, Anthony and Wade are in position to revitalize a rivalry between their respective teams.

The Bulls moved on from former league MVP Derrick Rose by trading him to New York in one of the most notable transactions of late. Joakim Noah fled Chicago and signed with the Knicks in free agency, giving New York even more veteran experience.

But Chicago didn't fare too badly in upgrading its roster either. In addition to improbably landing Wade, the Bulls acquired center Robin Lopez from the Knicks in the Rose trade and signed one of the game's better pass-first point guards in Rajon Rondo.

"I think as players, as competitors, we embrace all of those challenges and rivalries, that's what makes the sport great again, so we embrace that," said Anthony of the Bulls-Knicks rivalry, per Friedell.

Rose recently said New York was labeled by some as a "super team" along with the Golden State Warriors, which seems rather far-fetched. However, there's no denying the Knicks have gotten markedly better on paper ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.

With Anthony still capable of scoring in bunches, Rose and Noah having chips on their shoulders and Wade having intriguing complementary pieces on the perimeter in Rondo and Jimmy Butler, the showdowns between New York and Chicago figure to be captivating.

The X-factor when the Knicks and Bulls play may well be second-year New York big man Kristaps Porzingis. He showed immense promise as a rookie, and if he can elevate his game this coming season, there will be less pressure on Anthony, Rose and Noah to carry so much weight.

Porzingis' potential rise to stardom would allow the Knicks to counter Chicago's up-tempo style of play more easily—and could ultimately result in a New York playoff berth for the first time since 2013.