The New York Knicks opened training camp with word another superstar was perhaps slipping away.
And yet even without Carmelo Anthony, coach Mike D'Antoni is clear he's happy with what he has.
"I'm really excited about these guys right here," D'Antoni said Saturday after the Knicks' first workout at their training center, joking that he got a rash on his arm from the latest Anthony talk. "I got 15 stars right here. One, I don't want to go there. Two, I'm really happy, enthused (and) excited about what we got. That's my focus. Donnie (Walsh) will do his job. My focus is these 15 right here. I'm excited as I've been."
The New Jersey Nets were working on acquiring Anthony from Denver in a four-team trade. That would be another disappointment for the Knicks after top free agents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all chose Miami during the summer signing period.
But the Knicks did land All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire in a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix, and he's confident in his new teammates.
"I don't think it's over yet," Stoudemire said of the Anthony sweepstakes. "But there's no disappointment at all. We just got to focus on what we have. You know Carmelo's decision is based on him and his family. We're going to remain friends regardless of the situation."
D'Antoni chose Stoudemire and fellow newcomer Raymond Felton as the Knicks' co-captains on the eve of camp.
"It means a lot," Stoudemire said. "Just the fact of accepting the leadership role. Raymond and myself have been playing in this league for a while and had some success. Raymond won a national championship back in North Carolina. I've had success in previous years in Phoenix. So we have a sense of leadership. But again we all must lead. We all have to. Every player. It's a team thing."
Stoudemire stuck around after practice to work on his offensive moves with assistant coach Phil Weber. He said he and Felton spoke to the team about the importance of staying in shape and working out, telling his teammates the Knicks are "now a team to beat."
Felton signed with the Knicks after averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 assists with Charlotte last season. New York also acquired Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azuibuike in a deal that sent David Lee to Golden State, and signed Russian center Timofey Mozgov, Roger Mason Jr., Patrick Ewing Jr. and Shawne Williams.
So far, Stoudemire likes what he sees in his new teammates.
"I think New York made great strides this summer with the players we have at hand," he said. "We're in a great situation right now."
D'Antoni was also pleased with the way the Knicks handled their first of two workouts scheduled for the day. Players returned later for another early evening practice session. New York will work out here until next Wednesday, when it leaves for exhibition games in Italy and France.
Anthony could be on the Nets by then, although the Knicks hoped to be able to sign him next summer as a free agent. But Stoudemire won't dwell on the possibility of his friend ending up on New York's closest rival.
"It don't make a big deal," Stoudemire said. "Regardless, we have to face New Jersey and other teams. We've got to aim to win."