The New York Knicks officially kicked off their 2013 campaign by holding media day at the Knicks training facility. It was the first time all the players and coaches of the Knicks organization have been available to reporters, including new Knicks general manager Steve Mills.
Knicks GM Steve Mills has high expectations for the Knicks this season. “Our goal is to win a championship [this year], and we think we have a good chance to do that.” Mills said. In his first move as GM, Mills decided to pick up the option on the third year of coach Mike Woodson’s contract. He is now signed through the 2014-2015 season. Mills also indicated he would hire someone from within the organization to help him early on with decisions. Mills would not comment on last week’s surprising demotion of former GM Glen Grunwald, but wished him the best.
Coach Mike Woodson also spoke to reporters. He confirmed the New York Daily News report that A’mare Stoudemire had a minor knee procedure in July. As expected, Woodson said Stoudemire would be on a minutes restriction this season. Stoudemire will go through rehab, with the hope of being ready for the season. Woodson also addressed the health of Andrea Bargnani, who was battling the flu, and Carmelo Anthony, who dealt with knee and shoulder issues last season. Both players are expected to be 100% by the beginning of the regular season.
Woodson said he would use training camp to assess whether or not he would use the small lineup that was successful for the Knicks last season with Carmelo playing power forward, or revert to a traditional lineup with Anthony at the small forward. Woodson was expected to be on the hot seat at the beginning of this season, but with his team option now guaranteed for next year, his job is safe for now.
J.R. Smith had a busy offseason. He was signed to a three year extension, had knee surgery, and was then suspended five games for violating the NBA’s Anti Drug Agreement. Smith was remorseful about the suspension. “I’m more disappointed because I let my teammates down more than anything. I let Mr. Dolan down.” Smith was also asked about his decision to wait to have surgery until after he signed a new deal. Smith was candid in his response, calling it a “family decision” & said he wanted to get his contract done before surgery. The Knicks claim to have known about the planned surgery before re-signing Smith.
The Knicks also signed Queensbridge native Metta World Peace in the offseason. World Peace is always guaranteed to entertain the media and wasted no time doing so. Asked if he’s more comfortable playing small forward or power forward on defense, Peace said, “I’m most comfortable in the bed.” You never know what World Peace is going to say, but the Knicks hope to get consistent production out of the tough defender this season.
Predictably, Carmelo Anthony fielded questions about his contract situation for next summer. Anthony can opt out of his deal at the end of this season. Anthony reiterated he will not be worried about the contract until the summer, “When that time comes, I’ll deal with that. I’m not gonna think about my contract. … I’m not doing that,” Anthony said.
With an improved Eastern Conference Anthony knows a title run will not be easy. Anthony was asked what would be considered a successful season? Anthony said, “It’s hard for me to say what would be a successful season.” Carmelo hinted it would not be fair to his teammates to say not winning a title is a failed season. Anthony added that his concern is on “being a Knick and doing what I need to do hopefully to win a championship.”
In total it was an optimistic day for the Knicks. Most players, like Tyson Chandler, seemed excited to get a fresh start this season. Chandler vowed to be more aggressive this season. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. and Shooting Guard Iman Shumpert brimmed with confidence and excitement.
The Knicks are glad to be back, but if they expect to be playing in June this is day one of a long road ahead.