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Arron Afflalo expected to make Knicks debut Friday night

New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) poses

New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) poses during media day at the MSG practice facility on Monday Sept. 28th, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Arron Afflalo felt like part of the team again. Phil Jackson gave him some tips toward the end of his first practice and Derek Fisher conferred with him after it.

Afflalo went through a full practice Thursday for the first time since the first couple of days of training camp at West Point. The veteran swingman is expected to make his Knicks debut in Friday night's preseason game against the Celtics.

"I've had an extended vacation," he said. "I felt comfortable. Now it's just a matter of getting back acclimated with my teammates."

Afflalo suffered a strained left hamstring two weeks ago. He thought he could have returned sooner, but hamstrings are tricky injuries and the Knicks didn't want him to come back too soon.

They hope he can play Friday night and Saturday night in Charlotte without any setbacks and continue to get more comfortable with the offense and his teammates. The Knicks play one more game Thursday in Boston before the regular-season opener Oct. 28 in Milwaukee.

"It's preseason and at the same time, you need to get some development," Afflalo said. "Hamstrings can be two-week, three-week injuries, although I didn't have any official injury. I just wanted to take the same time, so to speak."

The Knicks also are closer to getting back Kristaps Porzingis, who missed Tuesday night's game against the 76ers with a strained left quadriceps. He did some shooting off screens and spot-up shooting Thursday, but no contact work.

Porzingis said he has "no pain" and that the Knicks are just being cautious with him. He could go through some contact workouts Friday to get him ready to play Saturday night. "They're going slowly with me," he said. "They don't want to force it too much. But I'm healthy. I'm 100 percent, so I can't wait to get back on the floor."

Kevin Seraphin, who missed the past two games with a sore right knee, also participated fully in practice and could return Friday night.

Afflalo was the first player the Knicks signed in the summer, inking him to a two-year, $16-million deal. Jackson and Fisher like his versatility and overall makeup.

He's expected to be the Knicks' starting shooting guard and perhaps their No. 2 scorer behind Carmelo Anthony. Afflalo has averaged 15.1 points in his past five seasons, and has shot 38.5 percent from three-point range in his eight-year career.

The 6-5 swingman also might be the Knicks' best individual defender, with the ability to guard perimeter players and some bigger forwards.

"He's a team guy and he competes on both ends of the floor," Fisher said. "It sounds strange to say a guy competes on offense and defense. But there's a level of physicality and aggression that Arron plays with that I think is good for us. He hasn't played basketball in several months, so we have to understand we won't see the best of him for a while probably. He's good enough to help us in the time he's on the floor."

Fisher doesn't seem concerned that Afflalo has missed too much time during the last two weeks. Neither does Afflalo, who can't wait to play. "It's positive anxiety because we've got a great group of guys and they've been working really hard," he said. "And I only got the two days of training camp in, so it seems like it's been a while, but I'm familiar. I've been standing here watching every day, so I'm excited."

Fisher said Anthony "physically" could play in both games of this weekend's back-to-back but that it hasn't been decided if he will. Anthony is returning from left knee surgery. "It's just a matter of if we want to do it, put him in that position at this point," Fisher said. "Physically, I think he'll be fine. It's more about long-term planning and whether it's worth doing at this point in the season."


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