GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Knicks could get some good news before playing the worst team in the NBA Saturday night.
If all goes well, point guard Jose Calderon will make his season debut against the 76ers at the Garden. Calderon, who has battled a calf injury since the preseason, practiced fully Friday and will decide Saturday morning if he is good to go.
"We don't want to put too much pressure on Jose and make him feel like he has to do it if he's not ready,'' coach Derek Fisher said after practice. "Hopefully, [on Saturday] we'll see how he responds to [Friday] and the five-on-five action.''
The Knicks (3-10) desperately need Calderon. They have lost nine of their last 10 while operating with inexperienced Shane Larkin at point guard.
Calderon, 33, was Phil Jackson's marquee addition to the roster during the offseason, the key piece in the six-player trade that sent Tyson Chandler to Dallas. The hope is the Knicks' triangle offense will take some kind of recognizable form with Calderon at the helm. A respected playmaker and three-point shooter, he is likely to start if he can play, though Fisher said there could be some sort of minutes restriction.
Calderon said after practice that he is excited about the prospect of getting on the court. When asked if he thinks he can pick up the triangle quickly, he laughed. "I hope so,'' he said. "Or we'll be in trouble.''
J.R. Smith said Calderon's return means only good things for the Knicks. "He's the leader at the point guard position, someone who can make plays and shots,'' he said. "He puts a lot of threat in our offensive end. He makes other teams have to respect that position.''
The Knicks also had hoped to get Andrea Bargnani back for Saturday night's game, but that looks less likely now, given that Bargnani was limited in practice Friday.
A loss to the 76ers would be a new low point for the Knicks, given that Philadelphia fell to 0-12 with its 122-96 loss to the Suns Friday night. The Knicks know they can't underestimate anyone at this point.
Said Fisher: "We haven't won, so we're not in a position to overlook anyone . . . I don't think we can look at ourselves as better than anyone. We're in no position to judge until we show up and start playing.''