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.

Analysts Weigh In on Getting Anthony and Stoudemire in Sync

After all, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who are the team’s two most essential players and who are in their prime, have not shown they can really click at the same time. For that matter, they have never been in a training camp together.

But they are both on hand now as Coach Mike Woodson begins to put in his new offense. Jason Kidd will mentor Raymond Felton. Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas will be excited to come off the bench, or at least will insist they are. Even Rasheed Wallace, who took a physical last week and is expected to sign with the team and end his retirement, might prove valuable enough by grabbing rebounds and shooting 3-pointers.

Jeremy Lin will not be in Greenburgh, N.Y., for training camp. He is now with the Houston Rockets, who will also hold their media day Monday. No one in the Knicks’ organization has explained for the record why Lin was allowed to depart as a free agent, though Woodson and General Manager Glen Grunwald are expected to do so Monday.

But after questions about Lin are finally addressed, an even bigger one will remain: Can Anthony and Stoudemire, two offense-first forwards, work together to make the Knicks a legitimate contender? When they have been in the starting lineup together, the Knicks have a record of 31-40, including a 1-7 record in the postseason.

“It’s just a tough, tough fit,” said Steve Kerr, an analyst for TNT and the former general manager for the Phoenix Suns, for whom Stoudemire previously played. “Both are used to being the center point of the offense — not really creating, but catching and finishing.”

Phil Jackson, an 11-time champion as an N.B.A. coach, has gone further in his critique, saying last summer that the Knicks were clumsily constructed because of the Anthony-Stoudemire combination.

Shaquille O’Neal, who has four championship rings, seemed skeptical that Anthony and Stoudemire could perform at the level of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the N.B.A.-champion Miami Heat. Chris Webber, a former N.B.A. star and current television analyst, said he doubted Anthony and Stoudemire could play off each other.

“Carmelo is a one-on-one player, and Amar’e needs the ball off the pick-and-roll,” Webber said. “I think what you have to do is delegate possessions.”

Walt Frazier, an analyst on Knicks broadcasts for MSG, wondered if Stoudemire would be willing to come off the bench. Kerr thought that was a logical option.

“It sounds crazy, but maybe you minimize the minutes where they are on the floor together,” he said. “That way, each of them becomes the focal point when they are out there on their own.”

Anthony and Stoudemire are signed through the 2014-15 season. Woodson and Grunwald are clearly hoping that the more experienced players they have brought in will make the Knicks formidable during this two-season window. Woodson said in July that young teams do not usually win N.B.A. titles.

“It will probably be comforting to Amar’e and Carmelo to have veteran guys in the locker room that won’t go off and really don’t care if they lose, say, four or five games in a row,” Webber said. “In a city like New York, you need guys in the locker room that don’t get shaken easily.”

The Knicks won their first playoff game in 11 years last season, an 89-87 victory over the Heat in the first round. For one game, the Knicks showed that maybe there is a blueprint for Anthony and Stoudemire to build on. Anthony scored 41 points in 41 minutes and had 4 assists. In the next game. Stoudemire, returning from a hand injury, had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Kerr wondered if a specified system — maybe the triangle offense that Jackson used in Los Angeles and Chicago — could force ball movement and trust for the Knicks. Jackson did get O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to buy into the triangle, and to believe in each other. The result was three titles.

Webber called the Knicks Anthony’s team. He said Anthony should shoot more than anyone else, and the ball should be in his hands late. To Webber, it’s Stoudemire who should evolve and focus on rebounding.

“It’s not a question, and it’s not even close,” Webber said. “Carmelo is one of the best small forwards the game has ever seen.”

The Knicks are depending on Anthony and Stoudemire for success — more now than ever, in a two-year window.

“You have to consider everything,” Kerr said. “All ideas have to be on the table.”

McGrady Works Out With Knicks

McGrady worked out for the Knicks on Thursday at their Greenburgh, N.Y., practice gym, just a few days after he reportedly worked out with the San Antonio Spurs.

The decision to have McGrady go through drills as training camp draws closer is yet another sign that the Knicks are looking to create a sizable group of savvy players — albeit past their primes — to help Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire contend for an N.B.A. title.

Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire are under contract for the next three years, giving the Knicks a heightened urgency to do something now. So Jason Kidd (age 39), Kurt Thomas (39) and Marcus Camby (38) have been added to the roster since the season ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat, the eventual champion.

The Knicks have also signed the Argentine point guard Pablo Prigini, who will be an N.B.A. rookie at age 36. When the season starts Nov. 1, Chandler will be 30.

The Knicks still have an available spot on their 20-man training camp roster. If McGrady ends up in camp, he will most likely compete with Chris Copeland, Mychel Thompson and three other rookie free agents, all of whom are younger than McGrady, for a spot on the regular-season roster.

In his 15-year career, McGrady has led the league in scoring twice, both times with the Orlando Magic, but he has been repeatedly hampered by injuries. Last season with the Atlanta Hawks, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing 16 minutes per game.

McGrady played for the Knicks once before, in 2010, when they acquired him and his expiring contract in a trade with the Houston Rockets that was largely used to free cap space with the hope of signing LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade. But the Knicks did not attract any of those star free agents that summer, and the Rockets received the Knicks’ 2012 first-round pick.

In 24 games with the Knicks that season, McGrady averaged 9.4 points. He has not scored that many points per game since he left New York.

Now McGrady is hoping the Knicks will see him as an asset, as one of a number of players with enough left to make a difference now, even though teams like the Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls are standing in the way.