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Gallinari believes Knicks are talent-laden team

Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari. (Mar. 23, 2010)

Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari. (Mar. 23, 2010) Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

Want to ruffle The Rooster's feathers? Try telling Danilo Gallinari that LeBron James didn't come to the Knicks because there wasn't enough talent on the roster - with Gallo being the best among five returning players - to win.

"I think if people don't consider me a good player," he said, "they're stupid."

Gallinari spoke with Newsday last night from Milan, Italy, to talk about the busy offseason for the Knicks and for him. He has been in his home country since the season ended in April working on critical, physical aspects of his game, such as explosion, quickness and flexibility. The 6-10 forward, who also continues to strengthen his core muscles to protect his surgically repaired back, also has focused on developing a low-post game.

The Knicks have monitored his offseason regimen - assistant Kenny Atkinson worked out with Gallinari in Milan last month - and Gallinari has kept close watch on his home team, as well. The result of LeBron's "Decision" came as a surprise.

"To be honest, yes. I was having a really good feeling about him coming here because if I was him, I'd probably choose New York," Gallinari said. "But he didn't, he went to the Heat."

Gallinari had heard plenty about James throughout the first two years of his NBA career. James even pulled him aside after one game at the Garden to offer him some advice and best wishes. James followed Gallinari enough to know about his back issues as a rookie in 2008-09.

And as the Knicks carved enough space to attract not just James but another max-contract free agent this summer, Gallinari was considered a potential third piece: a young up-and-comer to complement two established stars. But prevailing opinion from the national media, fed by whispers from James' inner circle, was that the Knicks weren't an attractive option for him because the roster didn't already have enough talent to contend for a championship.

"I think he was not thinking in that way," said Gallinari, who averaged 15.1 points per game and shot 38.1 percent from three-point range this past season. "I proved to everybody this season what I can do and what I cannot do. I have good things I can do on the court and things I have to improve, like anybody."

Injury sidelines Lee. The United States has lost another big man, as former Knick David Lee will miss the world championships because of an injured middle finger on his right hand. USA Basketball reports that the all-star forward will have his finger placed in a splint and could miss six weeks. - AP

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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