Knicks hope old guys can help
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Knicks are so old, two of their players were alive the last time the franchise won the NBA title.
That was 40 years ago next spring.
Desperate to construct a core that would bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks loaded up on veterans and built what could end up as the oldest team in NBA history.
They insist they're experienced, not over the hill, and Anthony praises the changes heading into his first full season in New York.
''For the most part when I first came I here, I always said it was going to be a process, it was going to be a growing process for us, a building process and we did that,'' Anthony said. ''It took us a year and a half to figure it out as far as getting guys around us, getting the core group of guys, getting some role guys on the basketball team.
''I think the front office did a great job this offseason putting this team together, building it around myself, building it around Amare, so everybody can be successful right now.''
The old newcomers (new oldcomers?) include Kurt Thomas, the NBA's oldest player at 40, and Jason Kidd, who turns 40 in March. Marcus Camby is 38 and Rookie Pablo Prigioni, Argentina's starting point guard who is finally trying the NBA, is 35. Rasheed Wallace is attempting to make the team at 38 after two years of retirement, and if he does, their 13-man rotation would average 32 years and 240 days old, the oldest in NBA history, according to research by STATS, LLC.
Already there have been concerns about the old guys' ability to hold up. Camby has missed much of the preseason with a strained left calf and may not be ready for the season opener. Wallace wasn't able to join his teammates on the court, spending his first couple of weeks working on the side on his conditioning.
Coach Mike Woodson isn't alarmed, saying on the eve of training camp that the makeup of this roster surrounding his stars gives the Knicks a chance to compete.
''We felt that we needed veteran pieces around those guys. It's not young teams that are winning NBA titles, guys,'' he said.
''I think when you're building a team, a championship team, it's not going to be Melo's night every night, it's not going to be Amare's night every night. I think that's why we've been able to sit here today and really feel good about the veteran guys that we've added.''
The Knicks are expected to begin the season without Stoudemire, who has a ruptured cyst behind his left knee. He appeared in only one preseason game, and whenever he comes back, so will the questions about his ability to play with Anthony.
New York is only 31-40, counting playoffs, in games they appear together. Stoudemire struggled with injuries last season and had his worst stats since he was a rookie. Now he will attempt to expand his game, with Woodson telling him after last season that he wanted the premier pick-and-roll finisher to improve his post play.
Stoudemire worked with former Houston Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer and said he's open to changing his game, even if before last season he was as good as anyone in the NBA in his role in previous coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
''Whatever wins,'' he said. ''Whatever brings the best opportunity to win games and ultimately get to the playoffs and compete for a championship. Whatever that style is and whatever we do, I'm totally down for it and we've just got to do it to the best of our ability.''
That's where the veteran knowledge can make a difference. Anthony and Stoudemire averaged about 48 points per game together in 19 games with Chauncey Billups in 2010-11, according to STATS, and a player such as Kidd, who will back up Raymond Felton, is a similar wise old man who will command the respect of the scorers and get them the ball in the right spots.
''I think it helps,'' Kidd said, ''when you look at Ray, Pablo, myself, veteran guys who have played the game and understand it, played with scorers and with guys who like to have the ball. And when you have pass-first type of point guards also helps.''
The Knicks had Jeremy Lin there last season, but opted not to match his big contract with Houston. They were young up front behind Anthony, Stoudemire and center Tyson Chandler last season, and obviously that's not a problem anymore.
They overcame the obstacles to finish 36-30 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Anthony played some of his best ball when Stoudemire was injured and he moved to the power forward spot, but both have said they can flourish in tandem after finally having a training camp together.
And Anthony is certain they'll have more support than last season.
''It was a couple of spots we were very inconsistent at. The point guard, 2 guard, bigs, we never knew what bigs we were going to have out there. Guys were injured for the last year and a half, so we had to deal with that. Now we're very strong. Three point guards deep at that position. We have shooters, we have bigs, we have depth, so that's something we're going to use to our advantage.''