Knicks hope old guys can help Amare, Carmelo win


Knicks hope old guys can help Amare, Carmelo win

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Knicks are so old, two of their players were alive the last time the franchise won the NBA title.

That was 40 years ago next spring.

Desperate to construct a core that would bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks loaded up on veterans and built what could end up as the oldest team in NBA history.

They insist they're experienced, not over the hill, and Anthony praises the changes heading into his first full season in New York.

``For the most part when I first came I here, I always said it was going to be a process, it was going to be a growing process for us, a building process and we did that,'' Anthony said. ``It took us a year and a half to figure it out as far as getting guys around us, getting the core group of guys, getting some role guys on the basketball team.

``I think the front office did a great job this offseason putting this team together, building it around myself, building it around Amare, so everybody can be successful right now.''

The old newcomers (new oldcomers?) include Kurt Thomas, the NBA's oldest player at 40, and Jason Kidd, who turns 40 in March. Marcus Camby is 38 and Rookie Pablo Prigioni, Argentina's starting point guard who is finally trying the NBA, is 35. Rasheed Wallace is attempting to make the team at 38 after two years of retirement, and if he does, their 13-man rotation would average 32 years and 240 days old, the oldest in NBA history, according to research by STATS, LLC.

Already there have been concerns about the old guys' ability to hold up. Camby has missed much of the preseason with a strained left calf and may not be ready for the season opener. Wallace wasn't able to join his teammates on the court, spending his first couple of weeks working on the side on his conditioning.

Coach Mike Woodson isn't alarmed, saying on the eve of training camp that the makeup of this roster surrounding his stars gives the Knicks a chance to compete.

``We felt that we needed veteran pieces around those guys. It's not young teams that are winning NBA titles, guys,'' he said.

``I think when you're building a team, a championship team, it's not going to be Melo's night every night, it's not going to be Amare's night every night. I think that's why we've been able to sit here today and really feel good about the veteran guys that we've added.''

The Knicks are expected to begin the season without Stoudemire, who has a ruptured cyst behind his left knee. He appeared in only one preseason game, and whenever he comes back, so will the questions about his ability to play with Anthony.

New York is only 31-40, counting playoffs, in games they appear together. Stoudemire struggled with injuries last season and had his worst stats since he was a rookie. Now he will attempt to expand his game, with Woodson telling him after last season that he wanted the premier pick-and-roll finisher to improve his post play.

Stoudemire worked with former Houston Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer and said he's open to changing his game, even if before last season he was as good as anyone in the NBA in his role in previous coach Mike D'Antoni's system.

``Whatever wins,'' he said. ``Whatever brings the best opportunity to win games and ultimately get to the playoffs and compete for a championship. Whatever that style is and whatever we do, I'm totally down for it and we've just got to do it to the best of our ability.''

That's where the veteran knowledge can make a difference. Anthony and Stoudemire averaged about 48 points per game together in 19 games with Chauncey Billups in 2010-11, according to STATS, and a player such as Kidd, who will back up Raymond Felton, is a similar wise old man who will command the respect of the scorers and get them the ball in the right spots.

``I think it helps,'' Kidd said, ``when you look at Ray, Pablo, myself, veteran guys who have played the game and understand it, played with scorers and with guys who like to have the ball. And when you have pass-first type of point guards also helps.''

The Knicks had Jeremy Lin there last season, but opted not to match his big contract with Houston. They were young up front behind Anthony, Stoudemire and center Tyson Chandler last season, and obviously that's not a problem anymore.

They overcame the obstacles to finish 36-30 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Anthony played some of his best ball when Stoudemire was injured and he moved to the power forward spot, but both have said they can flourish in tandem after finally having a training camp together.

And Anthony is certain they'll have more support than last season.

``It was a couple of spots we were very inconsistent at. The point guard, 2 guard, bigs, we never knew what bigs we were going to have out there. Guys were injured for the last year and a half, so we had to deal with that. Now we're very strong. Three point guards deep at that position. We have shooters, we have bigs, we have depth, so that's something we're going to use to our advantage.''

Quick Links

Sam Dekker happy to be with Wizards, back on court again following trade


Sam Dekker happy to be with Wizards, back on court again following trade

Injuries had limited Sam Dekker to only nine games this season with the Cavaliers, who he joined just this past summer in a trade. He hadn't played in a month. Yet, with only nine players available after Otto Porter Jr.'s injury on Monday against the Pacers, head coach Scott Brooks was left without much of a choice.

So, Dekker was summoned off the bench to make his debut with Washington, the third team he has called home all within this calendar year. Though the game amounted in a loss, Dekker's start with the Wizards could not have gone much better.

They instantly went on a 19-0 run to climb back into the game and Dekker played his part in it. He scored on a dunk, had two steals, a rebound and an assist. 

For Dekker, after missing weeks due to a left ankle injury, it was just good to get back out there.

"There was definitely some rust to knock off," Dekker said. "Our trainer was laughing at me. He said 'I've never seen someone drink their water so fast in a timeout.' My bottle was gone."

The dust will ultimately settle, but it has been a tumultuous few days for Dekker. He was still getting adjusted to the Cavs organization when on Friday night his name popped up in trade rumors. His phone started buzzing with "hundreds" of messages from friends and family.

At first, it looked like Dekker was going to Milwaukee, back to his home state and not far from where he starred at the University of Wisconsin.

"I didn't answer to any of them because I did not feel like I was going to Milwaukee," Dekker said. "Something was telling me that was not the case. It just didn't make sense in my head. So, I was like 'no way.' "

Sure enough, Dekker's gut feeling was proven correct. Soon after he was tied to Milwaukee, full details of the trade were released. It was a three-team deal and he was off to Washington, the fourth team in his young career.

The 24-year-old has been traded three times now. That's a lot of moving for he and his wife, Olivia.

"This is the third time I've made her move, so that's no fun. I feel terrible about that," he said. "But she's been awesome. She's been keeping me grounded through all of this."

Dekker said the first order of business after he was dealt to Washington was finding a sitter for his dog, Riggins. He had a 6 a.m. flight the next morning. 

Now, he is in the process of breaking a lease in Cleveland and looking for a new place in the Washington area.

"There's a lot more to it than people understand. They think we just put a new jersey on," Dekker said of getting traded.

Dekker's time with the Wizards has been a whirlwind so far. Things will calm down and, as he says, it all comes back to basketball.

"The one constant is playing hoops. Last night, to get on the court finally, that is one thing that feels like home," he said.


Quick Links

John Wall making progress but his status, along with Otto Porter's, in doubt vs. Celtics

John Wall making progress but his status, along with Otto Porter's, in doubt vs. Celtics

The Wizards look ahead to their first meeting of the season with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday with two starters considered day-to-day with injuries.

John Wall missed their last game, against the Pacers on Monday, with bone spurs in his left heel. Otto Porter Jr. left the game with a right knee contusion.

The Wizards held a light practice on Tuesday that featured a film session and a walkthrough. Porter only participated in the film session. Wall watched film and then went through a workout guided by assistant coaches afterwards.

"We will find out tomorrow," head coach Scott Brooks said about their status.

The answer will likely come shortly before the game starts. The Wizards do not have a scheduled shootaround.

Wall's absence on Monday marked the first game he's missed this season due to injury. He did not play last week against the Hawks because of personal reasons.

The heel injury is something Wall has been dealing with on-and-off for a long time.

"He fights through a lot of things. He's done this with his heel for four, five, or six years - I don't even know, long before I was here," Brooks said. 

"He just fights through it. He's done, along with our staff, has done a good job of monitoring it. It flared up, but it's calmed down. We just have to always be on the lookout."

Wall was also sick in addition to working through some off-court matters. But the fact he went through an individual workout would appear to be a good sign he can return on Wednesday against the Celtics.