GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Knicks got good All-Star news Wednesday when Danilo Gallinari was named to the sophomore team for the rookie / sophomore game.
They hope to get even better news Thursday when the All-Star Game reserves are announced at 7 p.m. on TNT. David Lee is the Knicks' best chance at an All-Star since Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston made the East squad in 2001.
"We'll find out in the next couple of days here," Lee said after practice Wednesday. "I'm just excited to see what happens."
Coaches had to send in their ballots by Wednesday. Seven reserves will be selected from a group that includes Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Derrick Rose, Vince Carter and Shaquille O'Neal.
Coaches are prohibited from voting for their own players. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said he's hoping Lee joins Gallinari and defending Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson in Dallas Feb. 12-14 but doesn't think it's crucial to the franchise's hopes to be represented in the Valentine's Day game.
"I think it's important to know the direction we're going in, that obviously the level of play has picked up if we get an All-Star," he said. "He's deserving of it and I think that's the step we're most concerned about. We're going to try to get two or three more guys up to that level."
Lee is averaging 36.8 minutes, 19.4 points and 11.4 rebounds. An unrestricted free agent after the season, he is playing on a one-year, $7-million contract. It's unclear whether Lee will be part of the Knicks' future, but at the moment he's their best player.
"He has put a lot of work into it and it would be great if he could make the All-Star [team]," D'Antoni said. "His reward was he got a pretty good contract."
He'd like to get an even better, longer, richer one after the season. The Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, probably want to oblige - once they see what's up with the premier free agents like LeBron James.
Lee, in fact, jokingly mentioned James when he was chatting about how the Knicks will contend with tonight's opponent. The Knicks will host the Toronto Raptors, who won at the Garden on Jan. 15, 112-104.
"We don't have a 30-point-a- night scorer," he said. "We don't have a LeBron James on the team - yet."
But they do have a David Lee - and by Thursday night that could mean they have an All-Star.
Notes & quotes: Robinson (strained right hamstring) and Wilson Chandler (strained left groin) sat out practice.