First-round pick Hill a work in progress for Knicks

New York Knicks' Jordan Hill, right, attempts to

New York Knicks' Jordan Hill, right, attempts to go to the basket as he is guarded by New Jersey Nets' Trenton Hassell during the fourth quarter of an NBA preseason basketball. (October 21, 2009) (Credit: AP)

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New York Knicks' Jordan Hill, right, attempts to $entry.content.alttag

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The Knicks have designated the 2010 free-agency season as their opportunity to find that desperately needed franchise player. Another method could have been through consecutive lottery picks, but so far, that hasn't quite gotten it done.

In fact, while Danilo Gallinari, the sixth overall pick in 2008, continues to try to find his shot after missing most of his rookie season with back trouble, coach Mike D'Antoni described the progress of this year's pick, Jordan Hill, as such: "Got a ways to go."

Let there be some solace in the impressive play of another rookie, guard Toney Douglas. He was taken 29th overall by the Lakers in a pick acquired by the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

The 6-11 Hill, the eighth player chosen in the draft, admits he still is overwhelmed by the transition from the college game - in which he was required only to go block-to-block - to D'Antoni's quick-thinking, quick-moving system that demands more versatility out of every position on the floor. Hill's athleticism eventually should allow him to accomplish that, but that won't happen until he can think as quickly as he can move.

"In college, everything was slow," Hill said. "I would just like to shot-block everything and stay at the block all the time. Now coach D'Antoni wants to spread the floor and I'm out defending. So it's all new to me now."

Team president Donnie Walsh acknowledged he did initially target a guard - Stephen Curry, who was taken by the Warriors at No. 7, was the top choice, along with Tyreke Evans (Kings) and Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves) - but added that Hill was among the top five players on the Knicks' draft board.

"I liked some of the guards, so if certain ones were there, I would have taken them," Walsh said, "but once they weren't there, then I went the other way."

Walsh also said he believes Hill would have gotten more of an opportunity to play if David Lee had not been re-signed. When asked if Hill was picked as insurance in case Lee, a restricted free agent this past summer, signed elsewhere, Walsh said no. "I made it for what I just said: On our board, he was a highly rated guy."

In six preseason games, Hill averaged 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds and shot 36.1 percent from the floor in 13.5 minutes. After Wednesday's preseason finale, a win over the Nets, D'Antoni said Hill "looks like he's a little bit of a deer in headlights."

Hill didn't disagree. "It's going to take time," he said. "But I'll definitely get the hang of it."

Notes & quotes: The Knicks cut their roster to 14 players Thursday when guard Joe Crawford and center Chris Hunter were waived. Undrafted rookie Marcus Landry remains on the team as the 13th player, with retired Cuttino Mobley still technically on the official roster until the team waives him, which is expected to occur next month on the one-year anniversary of his retirement announcement.

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