Stoudemire said all the Knicks have to step up, but the roster is young and unproven. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are returning starters who are capable of big nights but haven’t proven they can put together a long string of them.
Raymond Felton was signed away from Charlotte to be the starting point guard after helping the Bobcats make their first playoff appearance last season. He wouldn’t compare this Knicks team to the Charlotte one that earned the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“We fought for many years in Charlotte. We finally made the playoffs, brought that atmosphere back to the city, that’s the same thing we’re trying to do here in New York,” Felton said. “It’s been a while since they made the playoffs, since they’ve had a winning season, but we’re just trying to come out, trying to play hard and trying to do big things for ourselves and for the fans of the city.”
Rookie Timofey Mozgov of Russia could start at center, and the Knicks will count on Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and eventually the injured Kelenna Azubuike, all of whom were acquired from Golden State in a sign-and-trade deal for All-Star David Lee.
D’Antoni called himself “cautiously optimistic with a lot of concerns” about the Knicks, who haven’t been anywhere near the playoff race in the two years since he arrived from Phoenix, where his Suns were a perennial contender.
Now he finally has the type of player the Knicks spent two years preparing to chase. Better yet for the Knicks, they could be in position to add another one next summer, when Carmelo Anthony could become a free agent and Eddy Curry’s contract will finally come off the books.
Maybe they’ll even see a postseason game before then.
“It was a tough two years, that’s behind us now,” D’Antoni said. “And everything now will be to develop guys, keep good pieces and try to add to the team.”
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