To Kurt Thomas, turning 40 is just a number

Kurt Thomas speaks at the podium during the Kurt Thomas speaks at the podium during the Knicks' annual media day at Madison Square Garden. (Oct. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Kurt Thomas' jersey number matches his age. But as far as Thomas and the Knicks are concerned, they believe 40 is the new 30.

Thomas, who turned 40 Thursday, is the oldest player in the NBA and fittingly on the oldest team. He said he "might have lost a step," but said he can still be productive off the bench as a post defender and hitting shots in pick-and-pop situations.

"I show it every day in practice," Thomas said. "I can still get stops. I know how to move my feet. I know how to get myself in the right position and use my hands and use my body.

"I feel my game hasn't changed in 10, 12 years. If you think I'm old, that's fine. But when you get out there on the floor, I don't think you'd see that."

Thomas spent seven seasons with the Knicks, helping them reach the 1999 NBA Finals, and he was on their last team to win a playoff series the next year. Since the Knicks traded him to Phoenix in 2005, Thomas has been in the postseason six times and showed he can impact games, especially defensively.

But the Knicks' age will continue to be a topic.

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In March, Jason Kidd will turn 40 and Marcus Camby 39. Newly signed Rasheed Wallace is 38. But the Knicks think this group of players makes them better equipped for a long postseason run. Coach Mike Woodson already has said he thinks they can compete for a championship.

"To me it just shows a lot of experience out there,'' Thomas said, "guys who really know how to play on the offensive and the defensive end of the floor."

Thomas returned to the Knicks in the trade with Portland that also brought back point guard Raymond Felton. If Thomas is on the team opening night, he will join Herb Williams as the only Knicks to play in their 40s.

Say what you will about the Knicks' age, they've assembled a team loaded with playoff experience that should be better defensively and have much more depth behind Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler than last season.

J.R. Smith, who missed practice with a sore left ankle, likely will open the year starting at shooting guard. The Knicks also have Ronnie Brewer and Iman Shumpert rehabbing from knee surgeries. When they return, the Knicks will be even deeper.

"That's a nice position to be in because last year we thought with the injuries we weren't deep enough and we got caught," Woodson said. "As we went through the playoffs I thought the injuries really took our team down."

London calling. The NBA announced the Knicks and Pistons will play at London's O2 Arena on Jan. 17, 2013. It's a "home" game for Detroit. It will be the NBA's third regular-season game in Europe. The Nets and Raptors played each other twice at the O2 in March 2011.

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