Good afternoon, buddies. I'm still here in Greenburgh, but the Knicks are done for the day. My report from the first day of camp is up at The Sports Section, and here's another quick summary of what I heard and saw around here:
- First of all, they're not doing two-a-days like they did under Mike D'Antoni. Mike Woodson said he just doesn't believe in 'em anymore, and has instead chosen to run one three hour-long practice each day. At least today, he also kept the practice pretty closed off. I got here at 11-- right when practice started-- and sat until about 1:30. All the media got to see was the end of a five-on-five defensive drill and some stretching.
- Each night, they'll get together as a team to eat dinner and watch some film, but that's it.
- The drill we saw was a basic one with the offense swinging the ball around the perimeter and the defense sliding back and forth to react. Possibly of note was that James White wore a blue jersey along with Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. J.R. Smith was in white (the color) with Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, Kurt Thomas, and Marcus Camby. Ronnie Brewer and Iman Shumpert weren't participating, obviously.
- What immediately struck me during practice was the presence of a very large, very sweaty, very loud man I'd never seen before directly under the basket. I'm told this was LaSalle Thompson, who is now officially a Knicks assistant coach. Besides him and Dave Hopla, the Knicks also brought in Jerry Dunn, the former head coach at Penn State. Doesn't seem like there's room for Dunn (or Chris Ford, who was brought in as a consultant) on the bench.
- Rasheed Wallace is in New York (in the building with me right now, they say) but has not signed and wasn't anywhere to be seen today. Woodson wouldn't really say why this was the case beyond contract stuff. (Though, as I said in that Sports Section post, there's nothing to sort out. There's only a vet's minimum contract available. Some folks are saying Sheed's just delaying to miss as much of camp as possible, which is hard to deny. It's also possible that he practiced, then peaced out before media were let in. No idea.).
- Woodson said that Raymond Felton will be his starting point guard at the outset. Jason Kidd sounded fine with that. Jason Kidd speaks very, very quietly.
- Felton also sounded enthusiastic about the prospect of playing in lineups alongside Kidd and reiterated that he's in much better shape this year than he was at training camp in Portland last season.
- When asked about all the new veterans, Tyson Chandler sounded 1. Delighted to have some other guys around who play interior defense. 2. Enthusiastic about having a steadier team. He described last year's team as very exciting, but perhaps not as consistent as this one should be. He said the Knicks should be a top-five defensive team this year.
- Chandler's hand is supposedly fine, but his middle finger on his left hand was still wrapped up.
- I took that photo of him, by the way.
- During the post-practice huddle, the rookies (Sims, Shurna, Bellfield, etc.) sang "Happy Birthday" to Tyson. He's 30 today. He turned down the offer of another singing rendition from the media scrum.
- The guys all get smoothies after practice (they still wear those physiological sensor things on their backs during practice, and I think the smoothies are concocted to replace whatever nutrients they lost). When ordering his, Marcus Camby specifically asked for no chocolate, no piña colada.
- Carmelo Anthony and Steve Novak had a series of shooting contests after practice, and it looked like Melo actually won a couple of 'em.
- Ronnie Brewer didn't participate in any of the practice I saw, but got some shots up afterward. He's not wearing a brace or limping at all.
- I saw the John Shurna jumper in person. It is VIOLENT.
- Marc Berman hears that Wally Szczerbiak will replace Kelly Tripucka in the MSG studio, which is kinda disappointing.
That's pretty much what's up. I really hope we get to see more of practice in the next few days, because standing in a stinky media huddle with my little voice recorder isn't fun for me. More tomorrow!