After focusing on what the Knicks don't have -- Jason Kidd -- let's consider what they do have in Danilo Gallinari in today's matinee with the Dallas Mavericks at the Garden.

This will be Gallo's first matchup with the superstar he's been most often compared to: Dirk Nowitzki. While it's doubtful Gallinari will get the call to guard Dirk (I expect to see Jared Jeffries and Wilson Chandler get the assignment), you have to expect he and Nowitzki will find each other on occasion. When the Knicks played the Raptors on Jan. 15, Gallinari and Hedo Turkoglu went head-to-head a few times. Gallinari even put used one of Hedo's trademark step-back jumper moves on him.

In early December, when the season was still very young and the Knicks were very bad, Nowitzki had already had his eye on his protege. He told Newsday's Kimberley Martin that he was surprised how quickly Gallinari had developed and adapted to the NBA and the U.S.

At the mid-point of the season, Gallinari is sixth among "sophomores" with 14.9 points per game and is averaging 20.2 points per game in his last five games. He leads the NBA with 112 made three-pointers and his 40.9% clip from downtown is sixth in the NBA among players who attempt an average of four threes per game.

"I mean, he's got an unbelievable stroke," Nowitzki said. "He looks comfortable with the guys, his English has gotten better, so sky's the limit."

Nowitzki had a rough rookie season as a 20-year-old in 1999 but as his body got stronger, his game continued to develop, which sounds a lot like the flow chart for a certain young Italian on the Knicks.

* * *

* - One thing to remember about the Kidd situation: as much as they could have used him this season, the Knicks felt some relief when he did turn down their full mid-level offer to return to Dallas because of the alarming 2010-11 salary cap forecast promoted by the NBA after the Knicks made the offer to Kidd.

* - As Anthony Rieber reports today, Nate Robinson (hamstring) did not practice on Saturday and is not expected to be available today, which leaves Mike D'Antoni's choice to help struggling Chris Duhon in the backcourt with Larry Hughes or rookie Toney Douglas.

* - It's always good to see Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who recently celebrated the 10th anniversary at the helm of the Mavericks franchise, which was a mess when he took over Jan. 4, 2000. I have to admit if I had a few billion laying around, I'd buy an NBA team and probably run it with the same level of energy and passion and fun. Until I make a few more dollars, I'll live the dream vicariously through Mark.

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