After some stretching and a session of "watching film" (no idea what that was), the Knicks took the court and held their first practice of training camp this morning. Here's what I saw:
- The first thing I noticed? Everybody was up and running. Last year, Danilo Gallinari spent camp on a stationary bike, Jared Jeffries broke his leg, and Eddy Curry was off somewhere losing his lunch. This time it was 20 relatively healthy individuals going full strength. That's not to be taken for granted.
- Mike D'Antoni keeps things moving. It started with one-on-one full-court dribbling drills, then quickly progressed to three man sets with multiple balls in the air at once. There were no scrimmages (they play games in the evenings), but they did run full-court fast break drills that had everybody gasping for air. Everything finished up with some stretching, then individual attention from the coaches and staff while the reporters moved in.
A few early impressions from particular players:
- Danilo Gallinari did nothing to quell my rabid excitement over his development. His back looked like it wasn't a problem, as he was running the court with abandon and did fine moving laterally in a defensive stance. If there's one thing that surprised me about Danilo's demeanor, it's how fiery he gets. He probably hit around 50 of the 60-odd jumpers I saw him take on the day, but was visibly angry after each rim-out. He just doesn't expect to miss. In fact, the only shots that seemed to make Gallo uncomfortable were the ones that came after a lefty dribble. Anyway, the stroke is still very much there and the intensity is a bonus.
Did I mention that Danilo was doing this all with a bandaged right hand? He apparently cut himself in practice the other day. Nothing major. Still, a guy with tape on his hand shouldn't be burying fade-away threes at will.
Did I mention that I'm really excited about Danilo Gallinari?
- Seriously, though, it's worth noting that when the roster was divided in half between veterans and newbies, Gallo joined the vet squad.
- Eddy Curry's calf was wrapped pretty tight, but he managed to keep up in what may have been his first full-court workout in months. Eddy also looked much quicker off his feet, especially compared to the couple of games he played in last season, when I wasn't sure he could still dunk.
- Al Harrington and Jared Jeffries were unquestionably the vocal leaders throughout practice. Jared did his part explaining drills to the youngsters and newcomers, while Al was constantly barking orders and encouragement during drills.
- Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas were on the far court most of the time, so I didn't see much of them. It takes time to get familiar and comfortable in practice, but I'll say from my first impression that Pretty Toney looks more confident than Hill does. I'll have my eye on those two in scrimmages.
- David Lee and Darko Milicic both got extra reps in at the free throw line, and each looked generally solid stepping out to 15 feet or so. Watching both of them run the floor like champs is indicative of how flexible Mike D'Antoni's frontcourt options will be this season.
- Darko isn't the smiliest of fellows.
- Nate Robinson threw down a two-handed dunk between drills, then caught the ball between his ankles while still hanging on the rim. That's halfway to being dunk contest material right there.
- A packed roster doesn't bode well for the non-guaranteed signees, but I'd say from limited exposure that Warren Carter looked like the pick of the litter this morning.
- Sun Yue spent a while after practice shooting short jumpers with a medicine ball. This might do something to explain my irrational fear of Sun Yue.
That's all I've got for now. I'm headed back to watch more practices and some scrimmages this evening. Hopefully I'll be able to get some interviews in afterwards, though media availability is sometimes a little shorter at the late practice. We'll see. Keep sending in questions, and keep checking the Twitter for live updates.