Home Renovation Puts Knicks on the Road

The Knicks, who play their first preseason game Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, had to make the rare schedule arrangements because Madison Square Garden underwent the second phase of its extensive renovations during the off-season. The team did not have to worry about construction last year because the lockout cut most of the league’s preseason games.

While Coach Mike Woodson doesn’t like the situation, he understands his team will have to get ready for the season no matter what. Woodson said he didn’t know if the Knicks would even get to practice in their home arena before their home opener Nov. 2 against the defending N.B.A. champion Miami Heat. A rotation of three crews is working around the clock at the Garden to get the renovations completed before the season.

“I’d prefer to have games in our arena,” said Woodson, who hopes Knicks fans will travel to the road games. “We have to be more open-minded about it and go out and play our games where we have to play them.”

The Knicks are playing fewer preseason games than usual because of the renovations. Most teams in the league play at least seven games. In previous years, the Knicks played the Nets, who have moved to Brooklyn, twice during the preseason. The two teams were originally scheduled to open the preseason Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum, but the Knicks requested that the game be rescheduled for Oct. 24.

Some players say having no preseason game in the Garden could affect the team at the beginning of the season. J. R. Smith pointed out that half the players on the roster were not with the team last season. The team doesn’t know, and hasn’t been told at this point, if any of the sightlines when shooting the ball will change with the renovations.

“It plays a huge role in guys who have never been a Knick before,” Smith said. “I think you really need to familiarize yourself with where your spots are on the floor in the preseason, and it’s totally different from practice in a game.”

Carmelo Anthony, however, isn’t worried. In fact, he said not having preseason games at the Garden will help build the anticipation for fans to come see the arena in November.

“We don’t know how it’s going to look,” Anthony said. “All we’re worried about is that the court is the same. If it is, we’ll be fine.”

Among the changes at the Garden, the new seating in the upper bowl will allow fans to sit 10 feet closer to the court. Those seats have been elevated by 17 degrees. The Garden will also have 58 more suites, and the concourse on the eighth floor will feature more concession stands and bathrooms.

Woodson doesn’t think his team will have to adjust much to the new configuration of the arena. He hopes the home crowd will put his team in a good mood after having a number of games, including the season opener against the Nets, on the road.

“If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do out there on the floor,” Woodson said, “our guys will get comfortable awfully quick.”


Marcus Camby (strained left calf injury), Chris Smith (left knee), James White (sore right hamstring) and Rasheed Wallace (conditioning) will not travel with the team to Washington. …Smith is scheduled to have left patella tendon surgery Friday. The Knicks expect him to recover in three to six months.

With Cameras Rolling, Knicks Keep the Ball Moving

Woodson’s focus was on ball movement. He pointed to different areas on the floor while his players watched and listened. He instructed them on how to come off screens at the top of the paint and how to feed the ball into the post from a number of different spots on the court. Then the Knicks went in motion, passing the ball several times before putting up a shot.

“That’s going to be the key to our success,” Woodson said. “We have to be able to move the basketball. I’m anxious to see if they pick it up and carry it into a game. Good teams are not going to allow you to play on one side of the floor.”

The Knicks were criticized last season for allowing the ball to stop in the halfcourt. Woodson, who ran a number of isolation sets for Carmelo Anthony and others, plans to have the team run more pick-and-rolls and get the ball inside.

Anthony seemed more interested in passing rather than shooting Tuesday. While he took some shots in transition, he made sure to get the ball into Amar’e Stoudemire’s hands in the post. Stoudemire worked to improve his scoring in the low post this summer by training with the Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.

“He’s getting better at that each day,” Anthony said of Stoudemire. “We’re trying our best right now to get the ball to him down there so he can get comfortable. That’s the most important thing, because if you’re not comfortable down there, it’s not going to work.”

Stoudemire showed patience and strength in the post. He used spin moves to his left and his right to score over Chris Copeland and Henry Sims. He also scored with hook shots from the middle of the paint.

“Amar’e is a player that should be able to post the ball some,” Woodson said. “I’m just trying to mix it up a little for him so that he’s not just picking and popping out for a shot all the time.”

Woodson said he had not decided who would start at shooting guard. Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer, who both are rehabilitating from knee surgery, were doing individual workouts Tuesday. James White, who had been practicing with the starting unit, was on the sideline with a sore right hamstring that could keep him out of Thursday’s preseason opener at Washington.

Woodson kept J. R. Smith in his usual role of playing with the second team. Last week, Smith said he wanted to be a starter and that he entered camp hoping to accomplish that goal.

“Everybody can’t start,” Woodson said. “I have to have some offense coming off the bench, and I told J. R. he could be the best player coming off the bench in this league.”


Chris Smith missed his third straight practice with a sore left knee. … Marcus Camby did not practice because of a strained left calf. … Rasheed Wallace participated in the Knicks’ early walk-through, but continued to work on his conditioning when the team scrimmaged. Wallace said he felt good about his cross-training workouts and that he did not know when he would join the team for a full practice. “It’s not up to me; it’s up to Coach Woodson,” Wallace said. “I’m not one to complain. If it’s not until mid-November, it’s mid-November. I can’t control that, I just have to be ready either way.”

Knicks May Sign Rasheed Wallace Out of Retirement

The Knicks appear to be one step closer to signing Rasheed Wallace, who could be the latest and yet another veteran player this off-season to join the team just before training camp. A person with direct knowledge of the situation said Wallace took his physical with the Knicks’ training staff Thursday.

Wallace has considered coming out of retirement for the last two years. The decision to get a physical could be a signal that his signing with the Knicks might be imminent. The person close to the situation said Wallace could sign a league minimum deal (around $1.7 million) – which is all the Knicks can offer – as soon as Friday afternoon.

It’s unclear whether Wallace would sign a full guaranteed contract or a partially guaranteed deal. The Knicks have 13 players under guaranteed contract.

Wallace’s agent, Bill Strickland, said that he hadn’t spoken directly with Wallace or the Knicks on Friday about a contract from the team. Earlier this week, Strickland said Wallace was the only person discussing a possible deal with the Knicks. At this point, Wallace is only interested in joining the Knicks this season to return to the N.B.A.

“I’m extremely confident that if Rasheed ends his retirement, it will only be with the Knicks,” said Strickland, who has represented Wallace since he entered the league in 1995. “He only wants to join the Knicks if he decides to sign a contract.”

Coach Mike Woodson was an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons when Wallace helped the Pistons win the 2004 N.B.A. championship.

Wallace, 38, worked out with the Knicks on Saturday at their Greenburgh, N.Y., practice gym. The last game Wallace played in the N.B.A. was Game 7 of the 2010 finals as a member of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics lost that game to the Los Angeles Lakers. Wallace played well in the final game of his career, scoring 11 points with 8 rebounds. He averaged 9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game coming off the bench that season.

If Wallace becomes a Knick, he will be the fourth oldest player on the roster, a remarkable statistic given that Wallace is 38 years old. Jason Kidd (age 39), Kurt Thomas (39), and Marcus Camby (38) joined the team this off-season.

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.