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Derek Fisher upbeat about Knicks' new additions

New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher fields

New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher fields a question from the media before a game against the Indiana Pacers on April 8, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Knicks aren't planning a championship parade or even guaranteeing a playoff spot. But after officially announcing their four free-agent acquisitions, coach Derek Fisher promised that his team will have a better season than it did last year.

That's not saying much.

"We expect to be better," Fisher said after summer league practice. "We feel like we added good players. We're not going to win just 17 games. We feel like we can say that and feel pretty confident about that."

The Knicks shelled out nearly $100 million in total salaries for Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Queens native Kyle O'Quinn.

The names don't jump out at you, but in a statement, team president Phil Jackson said the new additions, including draft picks Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant, "will make for a very competitive team this coming year."

Fisher said the Knicks addressed several areas of need in free agency: defense, rebounding and versatility. "We like a lot of what we've done," he said. "You see where the game is going how important it is to have guys who can do multiple things. We feel like we added a few guys who can do that."

The Knicks also brought back forward Lance Thomas yesterday, agreeing to a one-year, $1.6-million deal, a league source said.

Fisher was most complimentary of Lopez. He said the Knicks weren't "sad" that DeAndre Jordan turned them down because in Lopez, they have "one of the best centers in the game in terms of anchoring the middle of the floor."

Lopez signed a four-year, $54-million contract after averaging 9.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.42 blocks in 27.8 minutes in 59 games for the Trail Blazers last season. "We needed size up front, and we talked a lot about defending and rebounding being areas we had to focus on," Fisher said. "We feel that Robin in the middle does that for us."

The Knicks pursued Lopez after the more offensive-minded Greg Monroe spurned them for the Bucks. The Knicks could look to the defensive-minded Afflalo (two years, $16 million) to be their second scoring option behind Carmelo Anthony.

Fisher praised the 6-10 O'Quinn (four years, $16 million) for his ability to handle the ball, pass, shoot and "play from the elbow down."

The Knicks gave Orlando cash and the right to swap 2019 second-round picks for him.

Fisher believes Williams (two years, $10 million) might be a more reliable and productive player with consistent minutes and overall stability. Since being taken second in the 2011 draft, Williams has averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 22.4 minutes for Minnesota and Sacramento.

"We believe Derrick is a guy who when he's had the opportunities has shown the type of potential that he does really have," Fisher said. "His numbers match out when he gets quality minutes.

"He's played for three coaches in the last three days, it seems, up in Sacramento, and we hope some stability here will be good for him. We like his versatility and his athleticism. We think he'll be able to do a lot of things for us."

The Knicks still have four spots to fill and can offer the $2.8-million room exception and minimum salaries to free agents. Fisher said the Knicks will look for more defense and rebounding, shooters and some speed at guard.

Before coming to terms with Thomas, Fisher said he hopes the Knicks can bring back two or three of their own free agents. The other candidates include Lou Amundson, Alexey Shved and Cole Aldrich.

"Overall, we like some of the possibilities we have as we finish out the roster," Fisher said. "The great thing about it is it will be our choice who comes to our team. We like the way it's going so far."

Porzingis ready to go. Porzingis expects to play in the summer league opener on Saturday against the Spurs. Some hip and quadriceps pain has slowed him in workouts, but he said he can play. "My hip is not bothering me anymore," he said. "I don't feel any pain. This morning I didn't practice, but they want to go step-by-step and for precautionary reasons don't want me to go 100 percent yet. I'll be fine to play for summer league.''

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