Kristaps Porzingis: Carmelo Anthony Should Get 'Love' from Knicks Fans in Return

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2017

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) reach for the ball in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis expressed his belief Friday that Carmelo Anthony should be well received Saturday upon his return to the Big Apple as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

According to ESPN.com's Ian Begley, Porzingis said, "I think he was as professional as he can be in his time here in New York, so I don't see why they would not receive him with love."

The Knicks traded Melo to the Thunder during the offseason in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round draft pick.

Anthony spent seven seasons with the Knicks following a trade from the Denver Nuggets.

During his time in New York, Melo was a seven-time All-Star, however team success proved difficult to come by. As a Knick, Anthony made just three playoff appearances and won one playoff series.

His relationship with former Knicks president Phil Jackson was rocky at best, and the Knicks decided to part ways with Anthony even after Jackson's departure.

Melo is one of the best scorers of his era, with one scoring title and a per-game average of 24.6 points during his career.

The transition to OKC has been a struggle, though, as he is putting up just 17.7 points per contest, which is by far the lowest average of his career.

New York and Oklahoma City have defied expectations this season in very different ways. The Knicks are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-13, while the Thunder are eighth in the Western Conference at just 13-14.

On Friday, Porzingis shot down the notion that the Knicks are much improved due to Anthony's departure:

"Not at all. He was here for a long time. For him, it was also hard. He was trying to do the right things to win, but it was just not clicking. It was not the right pieces around him to make that happen. I know he wants to win. If he didn't want to win, he would have probably stayed here or went somewhere else besides OKC because he has an actual chance to win."

Although the Thunder are currently in playoff position in the Western Conference, the superstar trio of Melo, Russell Westbrook and Paul George has failed to mesh as quickly as hoped.

Saturday's game will mark the second meeting between the Knicks and Thunder this season.

In the season opener for both teams, OKC won 105-84 at home, with Melo netting 22 points and Porzingis scoring a game-high 31.