Jonathan Bender will not play tonight against the Bobcats here in Charlotte, as Mike D’Antoni initially suggested he may. In fact, the Knicks newly-signed 7-foot forward didn’t even put on a jersey. It’ll be “maybe a week” D’Antoni said yesterday when he re-visited the idea he promoted after Tuesday’s practice that Bender might get minutes after just two practices.

 

For Bender, along with a learning curve and re-acclimation to the pro game, comes the initial first step of testing out the durability of knees that MRIs show are without cartilage after chronic injuries earlier in his career. The painful bone-on-bone condition forced him to retire in 2005-06.

 

But Bender says he is virtually pain-free – without surgery or even regeneration therapy – mostly thanks to former Olympian Charles Austin, who worked in the past with former Knicks Allan Houston and John Starks, along with other NBA players such as David Robinson and Penny Hardaway. He said rest and rehabilitation over the past three years helped dull some of the sharp bone matter that caused the discomfort in his knees.

The timing of Bender's signing is odd, but it doesn’t appear to have any ulterior motive. Certainly, Bender gives the Knicks some needed frontcourt depth in case a trade is made in the future. Bringing him in now allows him time to work into the rotation rather than forcing him into action before he is ready.

 

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* - Al Harrington will be a game-time decision because of a stomach flu. Yuck. Danilo Gallinari will start in his place if Harrington can't go (poor choice of words, I know).

 

* -Larry Brown said he understands what Mike D’Antoni is doing with Nate Robinson suddenly out of the rotation – Brown actually wanted Robinson sent to the D-League during his rookie season in 2005-06 – and believes Robinson will eventually get his chance to play again.

 

“He’s a terrific talent . . . a highly competitive kid,” Brown said. “He does some silly things sometimes, but it’s not to hurt anybody. I know he wants to win, I know he loves to play. He’s obviously handled this pretty well and it’s not an easy thing.”

 

* - Enjoy the game.