LAS VEGAS - Lou Amundson's appreciation and gratitude oozed from his blonde ponytail all the way down to his sneakers.
The Knicks forward is signed, sealed and delivered early in the offseason, giving him a sense of comfort he rarely has experienced in his first nine years in the NBA. He's finally about to get a chance to play for the same team for consecutive seasons, a feat of which he is fully aware.
"It's huge for me," Amundson said. "I've not had that. I've only had that one time in my career, so really to be in that situation, you have to prove yourself over and over again. And still, you are kind of behind the 8-ball because you have a coach or a coaching staff that doesn't know you on a personal level, hasn't seen you play every day, like somebody would if you are coming back.
"So to have a coach that knows my game, has confidence in me to put me in the game, is not going to hesitate to, that's huge for me. And also it's important for me, just mentally to know that and get some purpose to my training and not have to worry about, 'OK, what's going to happen next? What situation am I going to have to go into to prove my worth, to prove my play?' So it's been nice."
Amundson, 32, has played for 10 teams in a journeyman career that began in 2006, and the lone time he was on the same team for the entirety of two straight seasons came in 2008-10 when he played for the Phoenix Suns. Amundson really caught the Knicks' eye in the 41 games he appeared in last season, using his hustle and grit to average six points and six rebounds.
The Knicks inked him to a one-year, $1.65-million deal, figuring it made sense to add his 6-9 frame to bolster their front-line depth that now includes Robin Lopez, Kyle O'Quinn and Derrick Williams. Amundson said a few other teams inquired about his services, but he was adamant that if the Knicks extended an offer to him, he planned on accepting because New York is where he wanted to be.
He was glad the Knicks thought the same way about wanting to keep him around and is thrilled to be united with two players with whom he is very familiar. Amundson played with Lopez in Phoenix and New Orleans and was a teammate of Williams in Minnesota.
"We obviously prioritized having Lou back," coach Derek Fisher said, "and we feel like from the time he joined our team during the season last year to finish the season, he was just very impactful and he picked up on a lot of things that we are trying to do. He's a worker and so we felt good about investing in him because of what he invested in us when he showed up last year."
With a year of seasoning in the triangle, Amundson can be a valuable asset in helping teach some of the new players about the intricacies of the Knicks' offense. Those additions, such as rookie point guard Jerian Grant, are expected to aid in the Knicks pushing the tempo at times.
But it's always going to come down to producing in the triangle in clutch situations.
"The thing I tell people is the triangle is easy to learn, but it's hard to master," Amundson said. "There's a lot of nuances to it that you really don't understand until you've been around it for a bit and played in it for a bit, so that's why I think it's important to have guys around that have that experience that have played in it and know how to use it to their advantage."