GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Nate Robinson has a special sort of energy. When it is harnessed and pointed in the right direction, he can do spectacular things - like beating out Dwight Howard, a player 14 inches taller, to win the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
And when it's not harnessed and pointed in the right direction? Well, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said Wednesday that Robinson's inability to direct his energy appropriately is a big reason he and the Knicks are in their present position.
"That's why we're on a one-year contract. That's why we've won 32 games," D'Antoni said after practice. "If Nate gets it and we get it, we can get in the playoffs and the guys can find homes. I think that's everyone's goal."
The Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, signed Robinson to a one-year deal this summer after he averaged 17.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds last season. D'Antoni believes Robinson could put up even bigger numbers this season if he does all the right things.
D'Antoni was asked what were some of the wrong things Robinson was doing. "There's a lot of things like grabbing people, cutting down on technicals," D'Antoni said. "He's got to do a better job of keeping his mind right and focused on the game.
"The guy could average a lot of points. If he concentrates and keeps his mind in the game, his numbers should go way up and he should make us a winner."
Some might say that's putting a lot of pressure on Robinson. And in all fairness, D'Antoni did say that the prime reason that Robinson and David Lee weren't signed to longer contracts is that the Knicks need to keep their flexibility for next summer's free-agent market. But D'Antoni clearly put the onus on his point guard to prove that he deserves a better contract.