With all of the questions surrounding the Knicks on and off the court these days, there's another question they might be asking after Thursday's game against the Heat:

"Who was that masked man?"

LeBron James, who missed Miami's last game with a broken nose, is planning to face the Knicks while wearing a protective mask.

James participated in non-contract drills with the Heat Tuesday after sitting out Sunday's victory over the Bulls with headaches. His nose was broken in the previous game against Oklahoma City.

"Every day is better," he told reporters, according to The Associated Press. "I haven't been hit on it, either. That definitely helps . . . I won't change my game because of the mask. I'll probably be a little tentative when I first get out there, but I think I'll get used to it."

James plans on trying out the mask Wednesday in practice and wearing it in games for the time being. He wore a mask 10 years ago after breaking his cheek while with Cleveland.

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"It's a difficult challenge," James said. "It's like somebody constantly has a hand in your face. It's like an added defender you definitely don't want."

That may not be a problem against the Knicks, who are not known for their defense. The Knicks will come into Miami after Monday's heartbreaking, last-second loss to the Mavericks and point guard Raymond Felton's early-morning arrest in Manhattan on three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The Knicks did not practice Tuesday. Felton's availability will be one of the questions they are asked if they practice Wednesday.

The Knicks, who have two roster spots open after waiving Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih, will fill them with 6-4 guard Shannon Brown and 6-10 forward Earl Clark. They're expected to sign 10-day contracts Thursday and be available to play the Heat.

Brown averaged 2.3 points in 10 games with the Spurs. A great leaper, Brown, 28, has averaged 8.0 points in seven-plus NBA seasons. Clark averaged 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds with the Cavaliers this season. He was traded to the 76ers last week and waived. The fifth-year forward has career averages of 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 242 games with the Suns, Magic, Lakers and Cavs.

On Tuesday, the Knicks worked out swingman Dahntay Jones, a solid defensive player who played with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin in Denver. But they opted for Brown.

The Dolan family owns

controlling interests in the

Knicks, Madison Square

Garden and Cablevision.

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Cablevision owns Newsday.