Carmelo Anthony was joking last Tuesday when he said that he was "trying to find" Amar'e Stoudemire. Truth is, the two Knicks stars have been in touch all summer.
"Maybe I'll see him next week for Fashion Week," Carmelo said with a laugh after the Melo-Goodman summer league showdown in Baltimore. "But most likely by early October, I'll make it my duty to get guys together."
The latter part was a hint to plans that, Newsday has learned, involve a two week workout for locked out Knicks players.
If the NBA and NBPA can't come to an agreement in time to preserve the regularly-scheduled training camp, Stoudemire has organized a minicamp at the IMG Basketball facility in Bradenton, Fla. The camp is scheduled to run from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.
According to several players, the Knicks' captain sent out emails about the plan to all 10 players under contract for 2011-12, plus draft picks Iman Shumpert (who is already working out at IMG) and Josh Harrellson and a few free agents from the 2010-11 roster. Center Jerome Jordan signed with a team in Slovenia (with an NBA out), so he will likely not be available to attend a workout unless the lockout is resolved.
Anthony, looking muscular and well-conditioned, poured in 27 points in the Melo-Goodman game and declared himself "back". He had been dealing with an elbow injury last season.
Speaking of back, Stoudemire recently said his feels "much better."
Chauncey Billups, who missed the last three playoff games with a knee injury, was cleared to begin basketball workouts in August and should be ready for camp.
The one question mark is Ronny Turiaf, who broke a finger in his left hand last month while playing for France. He should be cleared to play by then, however.
League rules, which prohibit contact between team officials and players during the lockout, won't allow Mike D'Antoni, newly-hired Mike Woodson or any of the Knicks' coaching staff to attend these workouts. But it will be interesting to see if Stoudemire and Anthony have a coach on the premises with knowledge of D'Antoni's system to help organize the team through drills.
Or maybe with knowledge of Mike Woodson's (ahem) defensive philosophy, which is fairly standard. Woodson's teams in Atlanta mostly played man-to-man with zone principles that emphasized help defense. D'Antoni generally preferred to not emphasize help and instead put the onus on the defender to contain his man. If anything, with Woodson's style in place -- and responsibilities clearly outlined -- the Knicks defense should at least be more organized.
[By the way: D'Antoni, meanwhile, will be at his alma mater, Marshall University, in West Virginia, this weekend to have his No. 10 officially retired.]
Stoudemire talked about organizing a minicamp back in July and initially planned it for August, but with the lack of progress in collective bargaining talks between the league and the union -- plus Stoudemire's lingering back muscle issue -- the decision was made to delay the plan into September.
Other teams have done the same, with the Clippers recently getting together last month and Elton Brand also organized a workout with his fellow 76ers teammates in Los Angeles. This is especially important to the Knicks, who were assembled on the fly after the roster-shaking trade for Carmelo on Feb. 21. If the season is shortened because of the lockout, they will have little time in training camp to get reacquainted and continue to develop the chemistry necessary to be a legitimate contender in the East. The group showed flashes of potential during the final month of the regular season, but were overwhelmed in a first round sweep to the Celtics after Billups and Stoudemire were injured.
Training camp is expected to open Oct. 4, with the Knicks first preseason game scheduled for Oct. 11 at Philadelphia. Or Stoudemire's minicamp will begin Oct. 19, with no idea when the next real game will be.