Knicks center Curry rusty but ready to play

File photo. File photo. Photo Credit: AP

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Even Eddy Curry knows he's not the answer.

"Selfishly, you always want to say, 'Yeah, I could be that piece.' But it's hard to say. You never really know," he said.

Though optimistic about the progress he's made since tearing a right calf muscle on opening day of training camp, the 7-foot center showed Sunday, in his first real practice of the season, that he still needs some time before he's in game-ready form.

As much as Knicks fans hope his return signals a turnaround in a dismal season, it likely won't. Still, Curry can only help the 1-9 Knicks, who will bring a six-game losing streak into Wednesday's game at Indiana.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said he plans to use Curry - who last played March 30 against the Utah Jazz, a total of 6:47 - on Wednesday, though he's not sure how many minutes he will play. Because of injuries and conditioning issues, Curry saw only 12 minutes of action in three games last season.

"[He showed me] that he hasn't played in over a year-and-a-half. And that it's going to be a while," D'Antoni said. " . . . What he showed me is that he's in shape and he got through a good practice. He's still rusty, but if we can keep building and he doesn't have any setbacks, then we'll be fine."

The coach also said he isn't worried about Curry keeping up with his up-tempo system.

"He's light on his feet. He'll be good," D'Antoni said. "We will post him up and we'll find ways for him to score. You know, Kurt Thomas played and he wasn't the fastest guy in the world . . . You don't have to be fast, you just have to run."

Curry believes he can keep up with his teammates. But for now, he has more pressing issues to address.

"I think no matter what kind of system I was in, it'd still be an adjustment because I haven't played ball in so long," he said.

But less than a month into the season, the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - already are running out of time and options. And if Curry isn't the answer, who will be?

D'Antoni hopes team defense will be the key.

"We just have to get into guys and keep them in front," he said. "And learn how to be aggressive on every play. There's too many lulls and too many times we don't get back and things of that sort."

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