Tyson Chandler likes Knicks' additions at point guard

Tyson Chandler speaks at the podium during the Tyson Chandler speaks at the podium during the team's annual media day held at Madison Square Garden. (Oct. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

advertisement | advertise on newsday

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Tyson Chandler said Jeremy Lin brought a great "light" to the Knicks last season but that he wasn't ready to run an offense, and added that the team's immediate future is brighter with the point guards they have now.

Chandler said the Knicks didn't have a point guard to get himself, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire the ball in their comfort zones last season. In Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, the Knicks have experienced floor leaders who already have made a difference through the first four days of training camp.

"The intensity is way up and also there's also calmness when we're coming downcourt, with the point guards getting things under control and making sure we get good shots every possession," Chandler said Friday.

"I think the toughest thing last year was our best players were at the 3, 4 and 5 spots with nobody really to get them the ball in the right places . . . This year, with the additions that we got at [point guard], Melo can play his natural role and be a finisher and Amar'e can do the same thing."

The Knicks' play at point guard wasn't strong last season. Lin, Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and then-rookie Iman Shumpert all started at some point. Asked about Davis and Lin, who hadn't started an NBA game before last season, Chandler said one was too banged up and the other too inexperienced.

"Baron was hurt and Jeremy was a young point guard who was just learning, trying to learn and figure out an offense," Chandler said. "It was nothing against them and it was definitely nothing against Baron.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Baron was hurt the whole year and giving us everything he had. Jeremy was a young point guard who was inexperienced, who brought a great light to the organization. But as far as being able to run the offense and putting players in the right position he just wasn't there. We got some veteran point guards that are capable of doing that."

Chandler was a big Lin fan and praised him repeatedly last season. But with Lin now a member of the Houston Rockets, the Knicks have moved on.

"I knew how good Ray was coming from Denver," said J.R. Smith, who played part of the 2010-11 season with Felton. "You'd always hear about playing with J-Kidd and how smart he is, but you never really understand it until you get out there. These guys are 100 percent better than what I thought. Even a 40-year-old Jason Kidd is probably better than a lot of these 22-, 23-, 24- year-old guys."

Smith, a sixth man most of his career, wants to be a full-time starter. He likely will open the season as the starting shooting guard while Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer rehab from knee surgeries. Smith hopes to have the job all season but said he'll accept whatever role he has.

"I would rather be a starter, but if that's not in my cards, I understand," Smith said. "It gets frustrating after a while when people see you as a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man, when you believe you're a starter. But at the same time, you have to understand this is a team game. You have to put individual goals aside."

You also may be interested in: