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On the Outside, Looking In

I may or may not be quoting Staind in the headline, but the fact of the matter is that the Knicks have strung together a nice stretch of wins with Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson on the sideline. The Nate-less and Curry-less success has made for some mixed feelings in two of the longest tenured Knicks.

Nate Robinson, as we know, has been a regular DNP-CD for over a week now. The benching certainly stings, but as Marc Berman reports, Nate is doing his best to swallow his pride and work his way back.

Privately, Robinson feels D'Antoni treats him with a double standard and gets punished for transgressions teammates get away with. Because Robinson signed a one-year, $4 million contract days before training camp, he can't be traded until Dec. 15 and needs to approve any trade.

Since the benching, Robinson's pre-game preparation has been ultra serious. He's on the court 90 minutes before tipoff, usually performing a series of intense shooting drills with assistant coach Kenny Atkinson. It's all business.

Again, Nate has every right to be hurt, but it's an excellent sign to see that he's taking the demotion in stride. Robinson isn't a kid in this league anymore, and the fact that the Knicks are thriving without him seems to have affected his habits. Personally, I'm not dead-set on using Nate's expiring deal as a trade asset just yet. We've long considered him to be one of the most talented Knicks, and it might be worthwhile to let this benching play out and see if he can't earn his spot back and turn over a new leaf on the court.

In a similar vein, a Knick with different issues and a very much opposite personality from Nate's is Eddy Curry. Curry made a spirited, if not entirely compelling, comeback from injury several weeks ago. His appearance was short-lived, though, and he's been rehabbing his sore legs while the Knicks have been winning. Eddy's just about healthy enough to return (again (again)), but worries about messing with a good thing. From a separate Berman article:

"I want to try to blend in and not mess them up," Curry said after the Knicks' fourth win in five games Monday night over Portland. "They're really rolling right now. I don't want to be the reason we lose the game. It's going to be touchy for me. I trust Coach puts me in there when he feels I'm ready."

That kind of self-consciousness doesn't exactly scream "dominant big man", but we've long known that Eddy's not a brute or an egomaniac. In fact, he's got a very lucid idea of where he stands:

"Trade bait?" Curry asked. "I'm going to relish any moment I can to play. Whether playing me to trade me, or playing me because they want to win games, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to get out there. Although I don't want to be traded."

The point is that Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson have both been absent from the Knicks' recent surge, but both are hopefully on the path to factoring into the winning equation. They approach it from different directions, but both seem to have reached the conclusion that they've gotta fit into the team concept to earn playing time. Curry and Robinson can and should be key factors in the Knicks' success, and both seem to be headed in the right direction.