-- LAS VEGAS -- Carmelo Anthony said it was not the money, but instead his confidence in team president Phil Jackson and his belief that the New York Knicks "aren't that far away from contending for an NBA title," that made him opt to remain in New York instead of signing with the Chicago Bulls.
"I want to win. I don't care about the money," Anthony told ESPN.com. "I believe Phil will do what he has to do to take care of that.
"I don't think we're that far away," he added. "People use 'rebuilding' too loosely."
In what were believed to be Anthony's first public comments since agreeing to a five-year deal worth $124 million earlier this month, he told ESPN.com that the decision was so agonizing in the final days that he could not watch TV or go on the Internet.
"It was overwhelming," Anthony said. "It was stressful in the final days, one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make."
Anthony said, though, it ultimately came down to New York and Chicago.
"I was flip-flopping," he admitted. "It was hard. It was Chicago, but then after I met with L.A., it was L.A. But it came back to Chicago -- and was pretty much always Chicago or New York. That's a situation where I could have walked in now to an opportunity to compete for the next however many years."
But the 30-year-old Anthony said he is invigorated to work with a new team president in Phil Jackson and a new coach in Derek Fisher.
"It's a matter of me believing in the organization, believing in Phil," Anthony said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I can end my career."
He joins a retooled Knicks club that dealt away Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton in exchange for point guard Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington. The Knicks also drafted talented forward Cleanthony Early and added free agent Jason Smith. New York returns Anthony, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Andrea Bargnani -- as well as an aging Amar'e Stoudemire.
"I feel like we have a brand-new team," Anthony said. "It's a new beginning. It's excited."
Anthony said he felt LeBron James' move back to Cleveland opened up the Eastern Conference.
"It balances everything out," he said. "There's balance from one to eight right now. The East is balanced."