New York Knicks: Breaking Down Chatter Surrounding Training Camp

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New York Knicks: Breaking Down Chatter Surrounding Training Camp
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Metta World Peace had his new teammates in stitches on media day.

The New York Knicks had their media day on September 30 and opened training camp on October 1. Videos, pictures, press releases and sound bites from the first days of camp provided insight into the mindset of the players and coaches, while fueling speculation about the starting lineup, injured players and the final roster spots.

 

The Starting Lineup

One of the biggest questions heading into the 2013-14 season is who the Knicks' fifth starter will be. New York had a great deal of success last season with a starting lineup that featured two point guards (Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni) and Carmelo Anthony at the 4.

The acquisitions of seven-footer Andrea Bargnani and rugged forward Metta World Peace have led to speculation that Melo will go back to the 3, and Iman Shumpert will shift from the 3 to the 2, eliminating the two-point-guard lineup. Mike Woodson would not commit to a decision, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

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The coach did not tip his hand in practice. The Knicks starters usually wear blue jerseys (as opposed to white or orange) during drills, but team Digital Media Coordinator Charlie Widdoes tweeted that was not the case during the first day of training camp.

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However, statements made by Woodson and some of the players on media day made it sound as if Bargnani is the likely starter. Woodson suggested Anthony's natural position is the 3, though he conceded that there is not much of a difference between the two forward spots in today's NBA, per Jonah Ballow of Knicksnow.com. 

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Tyson Chandler opined Melo would benefit from a move back to the 3, per Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal.

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Anthony himself indicated he would have no problem with playing small forward, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. 

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Injured Players

The big news from media day was that Amar'e Stoudemire underwent another knee surgery in July, his third in less than a year. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the procedure was referred to as a "clean up" and was not considered major. Yet, the team’s desire to keep it a secret could be cause for concern and quotes out of Knicks camp do not sound optimistic. 

Tommy Beer of Hoopsworld.com reported that Stoudemire is not participating in any basketball activities, and Woodson said he does not know if STAT will be ready for the opener, per Al Iannazzone. 

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It is safe to assume the Knicks will bring Stoudemire along slowly given his injury history. It is more important for him to be healthy at the end of the season than the beginning.

J.R. Smith underwent surgery on his right knee in July. The timetable for his return was originally three to four months. Woodson hopes the shooting guard will be ready for the start of the season, per Tommy Beer of Hoopsworld.com (at which point he will serve a five-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy).

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Smith admitted he put off the surgery until after he signed a new contract with the Knicks, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Such an approach is common among athletes, and according to Smith, the Knicks knew that was the plan all along. 

J.R. has been shooting and riding the exercise bike during practice but has not begun running yet, per Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal. 

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He was also seen kickboxing with a Knicks staffer at the team facility as part of his rehabilitation, per Chris Herring. 

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Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who sprained his left wrist during summer league, has been wearing a wrap on his wrist during practice, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. 

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Kenyon Martin did not practice on the second day of camp, though he was seen riding a stationary bike, and Woodson said the veteran big man is in good health, per Ian Begley. 

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Final Roster Spots

The Knicks have 12 players signed to guaranteed contracts. Camp invitees Jeremy Tyler, Cole Aldrich, Ike Diogu, Josh Powell, Toure' Murry, Chris Smith (J.R.'s brother), Chris Douglas-Roberts and undrafted rookie C.J. Leslie will be fighting for the final two roster spots. 

Tyler appeared to have the inside track on one of those spots after an impressive showing for the Knicks' summer league team, but his odds of making the team took a hit when he was forced to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot in early September. The initial timetable for his recovery was eight to 10 weeks. 

Tyler drew laughs when he rode into media day on a scooter, per Jonah Ballow of Knicksnow.com. 

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Douglas-Roberts was a late edition, having signed on the second day of camp. He took Justin Brownlee's spot amid rumors that Brownlee had gotten hurt, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. 

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CDR is an intriguing option for the Knicks. The 6'7'' swingman is a talented scorer who racks up points by slashing to the basket. He played six games for the Dallas Mavericks last season and averaged 17.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.44 steals in 30 games for the Texas Legends of the D-League. 

Below are highlights from a game in which CDR dropped 49 points, seven rebounds and eight assists on the Santa Cruz Warriors last November. 

Metta Madness

Metta World Peace did not waste time reminding the New York media that he beats to his own drum. The Queens product turned the tables on media day by showing up with a microphone in hand and asking his own questions. 

Between World Peace and J.R. Smith, it should be an entertaining season for Knicks fans and media. Here's a link of from NBA.com of World Peace's media day interview.

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