Alan Hahn yesterday made resurfaced a rumor that Danilo Gallinari, who rehabbed his summer away, and Patrick Ewing Jr., a bit too raw just yet, could be candidates for the D-League going into their rookie seasons.
"That is definitely open . . . that's a possibility," D'Antoni said before Friday's 104-97 preseason win over the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden. "Now I'm just saying it hypothetically, but I can see you doing it. You'd be rehabbing, making sure you're playing 40 minutes, get you in good shape and then you come back up. I could see that happening . . . Whether we do it or not, I don't know."
Remember, the current roster stands at 18, so 3 cuts need to be made before opening day. D'Antoni, as we've seen, is unlikely to play anywhere near a 15-man rotation, which is why he might be interested in tapping a resource that was never once utilized by Isiah Thomas or his predecessors.
As for their potential destination, the Reno Bighorns are the Knicks' developmental affiliate (10 P&T points if you knew that). They are coached by Jay Humphries, who has been on D'Antoni's staff in the past and is expected to run the familiar "7-seconds-or-less" system, obviously adjusting for time zone differences. I'll let the only expert I know- Matt at Ridiculous Upside- explain what this would mean for the Bigs and Knicks alike:
This would be huge for Reno, which was unlikely to get much attention this year from its other affiliate, Sacramento (regrettably). Sending down a pick that high would do huge for the league to show a major market team's coach having faith in the system. The Humphries-D'Antoni connection could pay huge dividends for Reno. This would equal the highest pick sent to the D-League on assignment, previously by the Blazers sending down Martell Webster in 2005.
As for Gallinari, this would be a good move for the youngster who has missed almost all of preseason with a back injury, including Summer League. Say what you want about the level of talent in the D versus Europe, it's the closest you're going to find in terms of speed and physicality, both of which Gallinari will need to develop if he's going to be succesful. Tucking him away for a season gets him away from the constant criticism and could allow him to get his confidence up.
I wholeheartedly agree with that second paragraph. Gallinari's disadvantage is that he hasn't yet had the stage to prove his worth because of his injuries. If he has any shot at gaining some court cred this season, it'll be lighting up the D-League with that smooth stroke. Remember that we're talking about a guy who averaged 17.5 points a game last year in professional ball in Italy. My math tells me that that translates to approximately 303.8 points a game in the D-League. Not a typo. Danilo's 100% more likely to make a name for himself on the court canning jumpers in Reno than he is on the bench doing sudoku in New York.
As for Ewing Jr., Pat's future depends on his making the team. Unless Donnie Walsh is looking to cut some payroll, that isn't a sure thing. Assuming Allan Houston and Dan Grunfeld won't be around, (which would really hurt. I've grown to love the Grun.) Ewing's gotta beat out someone with NBA experience to make the roster. Mardy Collins has looked surprisingly sharp all preseason, and Anthony Roberson's got enough of a jumpshot to make any team. I'm hard-pressed to find a way for Ewing to make the Knicks unless a pricier cut is made- someone like Jerome James or Jared Jeffries. That said, if Ewing were to make the team, Reno would be a fantastic spot to hone his offensive game, practice fundamental defense, and drop some earth-shaking highlight reel dunks to get his name out there.
I expect that New Yorkers might have some acid reflux at the idea of our prized 6th pick heading west for the start of the season. We're not too familiar with the D-League, and, well, it's Reno. I reall do feel, though, that the NBDL is the only place for Gallinari to rehabilitate, get used to the fast-paced system, and show the league that he's ready to contribute. He can't do any of that on the bench.