WASHINGTON -- Two days after team president Phil Jackson made a trade that essentially pulled the plug on the New York Knicks' season, star forward Carmelo Anthony said that he trusts in Jackson's plan to revamp the franchise.
"I've got to trust in what's happening," Anthony said Wednesday. "I've got to trust in the plan that they're trying to put in place."
Entering the season, Anthony thought the Knicks would be a playoff team. That prediction now looks way off base.
Anthony said it's hard to see the Knicks transition into a team that has essentially given up on the season in the wake of Monday's trade.
New York traded J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland in a three-team deal that shed the money potentially owed to Smith in 2015-16 and created more cap space for the Knicks in the summer of 2015.
Jackson hopes to revamp the team via free agency this summer and the draft in June. As long as they continue to lose, the Knicks will have a chance to land one of the top picks in the draft.
Anthony said Wednesday that he expected the Knicks to be in a transition period under Jackson but that he never thought they would be 27 games under .500.
"I kind of knew that it was going to be kind of a rebuilding situation. But to be in the situation that we're in now from a record standpoint, I couldn't imagine this in a long time," said Anthony, who is out with knee soreness but hopes to return to the court next week.
Anthony reiterated that one of the reasons he decided to re-sign with the Knicks as a free agent over the summer was his trust in Jackson's vision for the team.
That trust hasn't wavered, he says.
"When I first committed back to New York, that was something I always said: I had to trust that them guys know what they're doing and believe in them guys. And that was one of the reasons I wanted to come back," said Anthony, who signed a five-year, $124 million deal with the Knicks in July. "Here's an opportunity with the trust. Everything starts now."
Anthony, who missed his fourth straight game Wednesday, added that it was tough to see Shumpert and Smith traded. Anthony and Smith had played together for nine seasons in Denver and New York.
"From a basketball standpoint, to lose three rotation guys [including center Samuel Dalembert, who was waived], two guys that were a really big part of what we have going on here, to lose that, that's tough to deal with," Anthony said. "From a non-basketball standpoint, to lose two friends ... them guys will be missed, especially by me."
Meanwhile, Smith also weighed in Wednesday on the Knicks' struggles by saying players are "walking on eggshells" due to the new offensive system.
"I mean it's just difficult learning a new system, a new way to play," he said before going scoreless in 19 minutes in his Cleveland debut. "The whole culture over there pretty much changed. I mean, a lot of guys have certain routines when they get on the court, when they don't get on the court and all of that was so flip-flopped and it kind of caught everybody off guard. And just everybody in the building was pretty much walking on eggshells, so it's kind of hard to prosper that way. Especially when you're not accustomed to it. But I'm sure they'll get it right."
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said Wednesday that the team has shifted its mindset from win-now to building for the future with Monday's trade.
"I think we have to be honest with our guys about what just happened and what it symbolizes and what it means for us," Fisher said. "... This doesn't mean we're giving up on them and who we are and what we're trying to become. But it almost solidifies the fact that we're trying to build something that's going to last and not just squeeze out a win here or there."
As far as Anthony's injury goes, he said taking the past seven days off has helped ease his discomfort but there is no set date for his return. He expects to be back on the court for the Knicks' game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 15 in London.
But he added that he has gotten "a couple of scans, a couple of MRIs" on the troublesome knee and hasn't ruled out the possibility of surgery to repair the issue.
"Some days it's better than others," said Anthony, who has dealt with soreness in the knee since the second game of the season. "Some days I can go out there and play; sometimes [I can't]."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.