Long before the start of the game against the Hawks Wednesday night, Damyean Dotson was on the Madison Square Garden floor working with the Knicks coaching staff, firing up shot after shot. For Dotson, it was more than the usual pregame sweat.
The 25-year-old shooting guard was expected to miss the entire preseason with Tuesday marking five months since he underwent surgery to repair a torn muscle in his right shoulder. That shut him down and he was left to watch as the remade Knicks roster worked together in scrimmages through the summer and then sorted out their rotations through the first two preseason games.
But he was cleared for action and he was intent on making up for lost time.
“It was a long summer,” said Dotson, who did not play in the Knicks' 100-96 loss. “I’ve been working very hard in the summer. Today is the 16th, yesterday was five m
onths since the surgery. I’ve been working really hard. I just feel good. I got cleared to go. I’m ready.”
The odd thing is that Dotson said that while he was playing with the tear through the latter part of the season he had no idea he had an injury that would require surgery. After the season ended he felt fatigue in the shoulder and opted for an MRI.
“You know what the funny thing is. I never felt anything was torn,” he said. “It was just when I stopped working out it got kind of weak. I was just like, oh man, I need to go get an MRI. I feel normal.
“At the end, the last game or something like that. I didn’t know there was a tear in there. I just thought I was tired, my legs were tired and I couldn’t make a shot anymore. The season was over. But no I didn’t feel a tear or anything. I felt normal. I felt like I do now. It was just a tear in there I didn’t know.”
Since he last played, shooting 2-for-8 in the season finale, the Knicks drafted RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick and have already slotted him into the starting shooting guard spot. Dennis Smith Jr. has been with the team from the start this season and with Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina in the backcourt it’s a crowded situation. So Dotson knows that he has to get on the floor and prove himself worthy of playing time.
“It’s been like that since I’ve been here,” Dotson said. “Tim [Hardaway Jr.], [Courtney] Lee. Ever since I’ve been here it’s always been stacked at the 2-guard, wing spot. Like I said, you’ve just to compete every day, bring it, be ready to play when your name is called, stay professional and stay ready.”
Still, it was hard to watch and not be able to join in.
“Yeah, that’s with any ballplayer,” he said. “If you can’t be out there, it takes a toll on you. But if you know you’re working hard and you’re trying to get back, only thing you can do issupport your teammates. That’s what I was doing. That’s what I’m going to continue to do. I’m 100 percent ready to get out there and be as effective as I can.”
Notes & quotes: Coach David Fizdale opted to shuffle the starting lineup, inserting Smith at point guard in place of Payton, who started the first two preseason games while Smith was sidelined, and putting Bobby Portis at center and bringing Mitchell Robinson off the bench.