Starting Tuesday, the Knicks finally will get what they've wanted since Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were brought together: a full training camp.
Anthony was acquired with 28 games left in the 2010-11 season and last year's lockout-condensed campaign led to a short camp and limited practices. Together, Anthony and Stoudemire have won one playoff game over two postseasons.
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But with a full camp, there will be no excuses for the Knicks or their two stars if their talents don't mesh during the 2012-13 season.
Gone are Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields. But general manager Glen Grunwald assembled a veteran roster -- some would say old -- for coach Mike Woodson, believing it would improve the Knicks' chances of advancing in the playoffs for the first time since 2000; and the first time since Anthony and Stoudemire were united.
1. Can Anthony and Stoudemire thrive together and win?
Though their 31-40 record together, playoffs included, indicates it might not work, Anthony and Stoudemire have shown occasional signs that they can flourish. But they're both effective with the ball on the wing. With Raymond Felton back, Woodson may utilize more pick-and-rolls with Stoudemire. It remains to be seen whether his post game improved from working with Hakeem Olajuwon. Stoudemire also is in better basketball shape than last season since he's been able to work out throughout the summer with no back issues. Still, Woodson has to diversify the offense and make sure both players remain involved because too often last year, guys stood around watching Anthony, including Stoudemire.
2. Can Anthony become more of a complete player?
He showed he could late last season, but Anthony has to do it for a full year. It's up to Woodson to demand it of Anthony, one of the NBA's best scorers. Maybe the time he spent with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant during the Olympics and the role Anthony played will help him become a more complete player who sacrifices parts of his game and makes his teammates better.
3. Will Raymond Felton Part II match his first Knicks' stint?
Felton teamed with Stoudemire and played All Star-caliber ball (17.1 points, 9.0 assists) before being traded in the Anthony deal -- but that was in Mike D'Antoni's system. After a subpar season with Portland, where Felton's conditioning was an issue, he's said to be in much better shape. He's replacing the popular Lin, who saved the Knicks last season. But Felton is a confident, effective guard who has to control the offense and spread the ball around. He'll also be pushed by future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, a likely candidate to finish games.
4. Can this aged team hold up?
If the Knicks sign Rasheed Wallace, they'll have six players with at least 10 years NBA experience and eight who will be 30 or older by Thanksgiving. Having older legs has worked for Boston, but the Knicks have no one like Kevin Garnett. Yet, in Kidd, Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas, they should have no-nonsense players whose objectives have to be to win and prove they have something left -- if they can hold up.
5. How will it all work?
When Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer return from knee surgeries, the Knicks will be deep. Developing chemistry will be huge for a team with only six players back from last season. They appear to have started building chemistry and camaraderie. They gathered for (cough) voluntary workouts and a "minicamp" in which Olajuwon trained the players, and many Knicks attended Tyson Chandler's photo gallery opening last week. It's a start. But on the court, Woodson must make sure many of these veterans are happy with their roles and playing for one goal.