Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

As workouts begin, NBPA trying to re-form union

NBA players, including New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony,

NBA players, including New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony, center, and Chauncey Billups, left, listen to players' union representatives speak during a news conference after a meeting of the players' union in New York. (Nov. 14, 2011) (Credit: AP)

Knicks players will be allowed back at MSG Training Center Thursday morning to use the facilities to work out and prepare for training camp, which remains on schedule to open next Friday.

With the lockout still technically in effect, the coaching staff is not permitted to have contact with the players. The workouts are voluntary, so the teams can not organize times or arrange for players to attend.

Carmelo Anthony is in New York so it would seem obvious for him to head up to the Tarrytown campus for a workout. With so many players scattered around the country, however, Melo might not find much of a run on the first day.

Amar'e Stoudemire is not in New York. He's been staying in South Florida, where he has worked out for most of the offseason. We're told he and rookie Iman Shumpert will be working out together with Stoudemire's trainer at Florida International's gym. Yes, that would be the FIU where Isiah Thomas is the head coach.

As we've reported here before, Thomas spent a little time with Stoudemire over the summer and offered pointers about his jump shot. Thomas also worked with Chris Paul and with Joe Johnson at FIU during the offseason. But right now? We're told he's not working with Amar'e or with Iman because he is a little busy coaching his own team.

Stoudemire and Shumpert are not expected to arrive in New York until next week. At this point, Chauncey Billups, who has split time between working out with Joe Abunassar in Las Vegas and being with his family in suburban Denver, is expected to follow the same schedule.

The players have a bigger responsibility Thursday than just showing up at the gym. The NBA Players Association sent a letter to agents on Wednesday asking for a greater urgency in turning in union cards that were sent to the players earlier this week to begin the process of re-forming the NBPA as a union. According to the letter, which was obtained by Newsday, the NBPA emphasized the importance of a prompt response from the players:

"If the American Arbitration Association does not receive 260 signed cards by [Thursday] night, we will not be able to negotiate, draft and ratify a new CBA by next week and the teams will not be able to open camps and begin signing players next Friday as hoped . . . Time is of the essence here and you personally have the unique ability to get this done."

Tags: NBA , Knicks , Amar'e Stoudemire , Iman Shumpert , Chauncey Billups , Carmelo Anthony , NBPA , lockout

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