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Knicks' Curry aching to play and quiet troubles

OAKLAND, Calif. - Considering what Eddy Curry has endured emotionally off the court over the past month, he seemed almost relieved to talk about a subject that used to be the biggest problem in his life: his conditioning.

"It's definitely an issue," the 6-11, 300-plus pound center said more willingly than ever before.

Curry has been back with the team for about a week after he was given a leave of absence to go to Chicago and tend to his 3-year-old son, who was an eyewitness to the double-murder of his mother, Curry's ex-girlfriend Nova Henry, and her infant daughter, Ava. A report out of Chicago said DNA testing proved Ava, who was 10 months old, was also fathered by Curry, who is married with four children.

Shortly before that, Curry was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former driver, a male, who alleges Curry made sexual advances and anti-Semitic remarks. The suit also claims that Curry failed to pay for services rendered.

Curry's lawyer, Kelly Saindon, has said a countersuit will be filed, though one had not as of yesterday. Curry, who spoke with reporters for the first time since he came back from Chicago, would not discuss specifics of either situation.

"Honestly I really don't want to talk about anything other than basketball, than me getting back on the court, because I feel like there's been enough circulating about Eddy Curry, about my life and all that stuff, other than basketball," Curry said. "So I just really want to kind of replace the focus back on basketball and the New York Knicks, and really just don't want to talk about it."

On the court, Curry was already behind in his conditioning before these incidents. He has played in just one game this season - a mere 2:38 stint at Dallas on Jan. 8 - and the following day he ran hard in a four-on-four scrimmage. But the workload was too much and Curry's right knee swelled and he hasn't played since. He still cannot run on it, but said yesterday that he expects to be back on the court after the All-Star break.

There was some talk that the Knicks might try to move Curry by the Feb. 19 trade deadline, but that is highly unlikely.

The hope now is that Curry can get healthy enough to play in the final quarter of the season and perhaps show enough of his low-post scoring talents to draw interest from teams in the offseason. "I feel like with the majority of the season behind us, it's still an important time," Curry said. "And I feel like I can still help, if I come back and I'm able to do what I need to do."

But coach Mike D'Antoni, who has been openly critical of Curry's poor conditioning, said he wasn't sure if there will be a place for him to play if the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - are playing critical games down the stretch. D'Antoni already is playing a nine-man rotation and would have to make adjustments in his rotation to get Curry on the floor.

"The whole thing will depend on when he starts practicing," D'Antoni said. "Does he have pain? Can he help us? And then we'll make adjustments once he starts practicing. Until then . . . I don't think I can say something definitive because I don't know until I see him practice and maybe test it a little bit in a game and then we'll see from there. I don't know. But I do know that we're going to have to make a stretch run, and so it does make it tougher, in theory."

Regardless of the factors working against him at this point, basketball is a desperately needed cocoon for Curry, which allows him an escape from his off-court troubles.

"This is the time where I'm really looking forward to it," he said of getting back on the court. "I wish I could take a magic pill or something and make my legs feel better and make me able to go out there and do what I need to do. Honestly, I enjoy all my time that I have around these guys and around this organization, because it's really almost like a safe house for me."

Tonight

Knicks at Clippers

10:30 p.m.

TV: MSG

Radio: WEPN (1050)

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