Although the Knicks have almost a full complement of 15 players, they are still looking to add a piece or two, including a scorer off the bench, which is why they are trying to lure Jamal Crawford back to New York for less money than he could make elsewhere.
Complicating matters is a , who did not practice Tuesday. The Knicks play on Saturday not knowing whether Anthony will be available, or in what capacity, making the job of preparing the team for the regular-season opener on Christmas that much more difficult for Coach .
“The biggest thing are the rookies, that we get them up to speed,” D’Antoni said after practice Tuesday. “Carmelo knows what we’re doing, more or less. He’s been working hard and one day off isn’t going to kill him, but you had to go two days off, three days off.”
to complement Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire would appear to give the Knicks perhaps the most formidable frontcourt in the But Anthony’s injury may prevent them from making their debut together Saturday.
Anthony hyperextended his left knee in a collision with another player during practice Monday and was held out of Tuesday’s practice as a precaution. D’Antoni said that Anthony was considered day to day and that he hoped Anthony could play Saturday.
“But I thought he was going to practice today, so we’ll find out,” D’Antoni said. “Carmelo said he’s fine. Trainers said he’s fine. But he can’t practice, whatever that means. I think he’s a probably little sore. We’ll just make sure that goes away before he goes again.”
Bill Walker also sat out of practice Tuesday with a strained left groin. Because of injuries, D’Antoni did not rule out bringing in another player to help fill out the roster. Needing a moment to count them all, D’Antoni said the Knicks had 13 players under contract, with Jerome Jordan, a backup center, agreeing in principle to sign with them as well.
The Knicks have made no secret of their desire to add Crawford, but whether they will be able to is another matter. Crawford, who played for Atlanta the past two seasons, is seeking $5 million or more a year. The Knicks, however, have only a $2.5 million cap exception, which is the most that the team can spend on a player at the moment.
Crawford is weighing offers from the Knicks, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Sacramento Kings, having turned down a two-year, $10 million offer from the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Portland can offer a starting salary of $5 million, and the Kings could go potentially higher.
D’Antoni said that Crawford, a proven scorer with long-range touch, might be able to help the Knicks more than simply coming off the bench as a sixth man. As of now, Toney Douglas and Landry Fields are the starting guards. , the team’s top rookie, is seen as the backup to Fields at shooting guard and has impressed D’Antoni with his athleticism.
But back to Crawford. “I think he’s really good at that role,” D’Antoni said of using Crawford as the sixth man. “If something else works better, he could do something else. He’s shown he’s been a great starter and a great sixth man.”
In a note of wishful optimism, he added, “Now we’ll have to see what’s better for our team.”
That seems to be a mantra of sorts for the Knicks as they continue to sort out their roster in an abbreviated training camp caused by the lockout. For better or worse, D’Antoni will be making decisions on the fly.
Howard Beck contributed reporting.