WEST POINT, N.Y. - Robin Lopez already is having an impact on the Knicks' defense, as well as some of the basket stanchions and other things inside Christl Arena.
The Knicks gave Lopez $54 million over four years to be their defensive anchor. It's something he takes very seriously, as he's shown in the first two days of training camp.
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"Basically all tables, stanchions and what appear to be immovable objects should get out of the way when he gets [ticked] off," coach Derek Fisher said after Wednesday's practice. "If a guy scores on him or something doesn't go well, he tends to make sure that everybody knows that he's not happy.StoryMelo: Knicks are competing for a championshipPhotosThe Manning brothers and other famous sports siblings
"Just having a guy with that type of mindset protecting the basket for you, we hope, can be a good thing. But it's still a team game, more defensively than offensively. So we can't just rely on the big hair and the loud voice to save the day. We have to be a good defensive team."
The Knicks were in the bottom 10 last season in all of the major defensive statistics, including efficiency. That made getting a big man who can protect the rim and cover for his teammates a priority during the offseason, and Lopez a welcomed addition.
"Oh, he's big time," Carmelo Anthony said. "We were winning all the drills today and then they took him out and we lost. That tells you right there."
Lopez, who has averaged 1.6 blocks over the past three seasons for New Orleans and Portland, said some of that competitive fire and desire to win came from his battles with his twin brother and Nets center Brook Lopez. He also said he was more destructive when he was younger.
"I like to stay emotionally invested in the game," Lopez said. "If you're emotionally invested I don't think you have to worry about things like playing hard, staying committed, staying behind your teammates."
But Lopez joked that when he gets angry at himself or situations, "I go after the back of the basket pretty fiercely. It's padded, so I know it's safe."
Many believed Greg Monroe would be the Knicks' top option and likeliest signee. He chose the Milwaukee Bucks and the Knicks went for the better defensive center. They envision Anthony playing more power forward with Lopez manning the paint.
Lopez has some abilities that can help the Knicks on offense too. Lopez is one of the better offensive rebounders in the NBA -- he was tied for second two years ago, grabbing 4.0 in under 32 minutes per game. He also passes well, sets hard screens and is appreciated by his teammates for his selfless play.
"I hated him, as an opponent," Anthony said. "He's a big guy. He's a load down there. He's one of the best big guys in the NBA as far as not committing fouls. He's a hell of a pick-and-roll guy. He sets crazy screens. I used to think it was dirty, but now I think they're clean."