in a sign-and-trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks, pulled on a white jersey and worked with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony for the first time, pledging afterward that the Knicks would be much tougher defensively.
“If the effort is there, everything will come after it,” Chandler said with a smile. “We’re going to learn and figure it out, but the effort is already there.”
The most interesting and intense matchup Sunday was between Toney Douglas, who essentially became the starting point guard when the Knicks waived Chauncey Billups to create salary-cap room for Chandler, and Mike Bibby, a 33-year-old point guard who says he simply hopes to fit in.
, signed Sunday with the Knicks, his fourth team in the last year. Bibby has 407 playoff assists (or 398 more than Douglas) and was acquired by Miami late last season to nudge the Heat through the playoffs.
“We still think he’s got some gas left in his tank,” Coach said. “Obviously, he’s a very smart, good-shooting point guard, and there are not many guys who can come off the bench and give us help. He’ll know his role, and he’s looking forward to it. Then we’ll see what happens.”
Although the Knicks have time to make more moves, D’Antoni sounds as if he intends to see what Douglas can do. Bibby is, for now, an insurance policy, as well as a tutor to Douglas and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks’ first-round draft choice. Team officials say they are interested in bringing back Jamal Crawford, but payroll constraints make a reunion unlikely. Crawford, who has played for Atlanta for two seasons, is seeking more than $5 million per year, but the Knicks have only a $2.5 million cap exception, which is limited to two years.
A sign-and-trade deal for Crawford is also problematic, because the Hawks do not want to take back salary and the Knicks have few pieces they can trade. Team officials insist they will not trade Douglas to get Crawford.
Shumpert signed Sunday, as did the rookie center Josh Harrellson, acquired from New Orleans. Terms were not disclosed. The Knicks also re-signed Jared Jeffries, the 6-foot-11-inch reserve forward who is in his second stint with the team.
Bibby’s playoff run in Miami did not go well. He started all 20 of the Heat’s playoff games but averaged only 3.6 points and 1.1 assists in 20.8 minutes as Miami lost in the N.B.A. finals to Chandler and the Mavericks.
Between postpractice shooting sessions, Bibby said he had nothing to prove: “Ever since I came in, people have doubted me. I’m going on my 14th year, and I don’t care what you guys say, and I don’t care what anybody says about me. I’ve always been like that.”
He added: “I’m going to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win. If they ask me to stand on the sideline and cheer, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m here to win. I’m going to play the role they want me to play.”
D’Antoni made a point of saying that the Knicks would not have waived Billups, enabling them to pick up Chandler, if D’Antoni did not have confidence that Douglas would be able to jump in as a starter.
Douglas has experience as a starter, having replaced in the playoffs last season. D’Antoni also said, again, that Anthony would be counted on to distribute the ball more in the Knicks’ pick-and-roll sets.
“My teammates, they have my back, and that’s all I need,” Douglas said. “Myself, I have confidence.”
When told that there was a perception that the Knicks did not exactly have a point guard now that Billups was gone, Douglas replied: “That’s people’s opinion. Everybody’s going to have an opinion, that’s how I see it. I don’t listen to none of that. I just come in and work out every morning for practice, and I get better.”
A minute later, he said: “We’re going to have a fun year off the court. I can already see the bond, even though we got two new guys coming in. Our goal is not just to make the playoffs. Our goal is a championship. That’s what we’re looking for.”
D’Antoni said the Knicks still had a lot to work on before they open the regular season Dec. 25 against the Celtics — and for that matter, they have a lot to work on before they play their first exhibition game Saturday against the Nets. But they are stocked and determined.
“They know what’s at stake,” D’Antoni said, “and I don’t think they want to see an opportunity slip by without giving it their best.”