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New Knicks try to focus on the job at hand

DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr. try to get acclimated and help their new team.

Wesley Matthews #23 of the New York Knicks

Wesley Matthews #23 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Memphis Grizzlies at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The new guys basically were winging it in their first game with the Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. On Monday at MSG Training Center, they got a chance to practice with their new team for the first time and become more acclimated to the plays and the players.

It’s a transition game for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr., an adjustment period after last Thursday’s blockbuster trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.

Jordan, the 11th-year center, and Matthews, the 10th-year swingman, have expiring contracts. The final buzzer on trades is set for 3 p.m. Thursday. The Knicks could keep them, flip them or ultimately buy them out. Matthews’ name indeed is swirling in the rumor mill.

These two new guys, though, are trying to focus on being Knicks, not whether they’re about to become new guys elsewhere.

“I’ve been in trade rumors since my second year in the league,” Matthews said, “and so I can’t focus on that because the moment that you do that, you stop focusing on what’s most important, which is getting yourself mentally and physically prepared to perform at your best every single night.”

The 6-11 Jordan’s skills could help a contender. The Knicks are 10-42 after 13 straight losses and 26 losses in their last 28 games.

“They’re definitely trying to build something bigger,” Jordan said. “That’s something that’s very intriguing. But right now we’re just focused on this season and us getting wins and getting better.

“It’s the NBA,” he added. “It’s a business. Like Wes said, he found out he got traded after he woke up from a nap. So you never know what could happen. But I like what they’re doing here.”

Jordan’s debut produced 12 points, 12 rebounds and a take-charge mentality.

Said coach David Fizdale, “You would’ve thought he was our defensive big all year the way he was quarterbacking and throwing guys in the right place and solving problems and policing our defense.”

Fizdale said he wants the two-time all-defensive first team honoree to “help us grow” 7-1 rookie Mitchell Robinson. There’s a resemblance.

“I’m way more handsome than he is,” Jordan said. “But other than that, yeah, you definitely see some similarities . . . We’ve just got to get him talking a little bit and out of that [20]-year-old shy phase.”

Smith is 21. The point guard, a 2017 first-round pick, is trying to get his shot back on track. “It’s my third day out here,” he said. “I’m still in the hotel right now. So it’s a lot of adjustment going on. But I’m in here every day. That’s the main thing. Be in the gym as much as possible. Everything else will come around.”

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