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Three new Knicks say they're happy to be in New York

DeAndre Jordan #6, Wesley Matthews #23 and Dennis

DeAndre Jordan #6, Wesley Matthews #23 and Dennis Smith Jr. #5 of the New York Knicks look on along with Bruno Caboclo #5 of the Memphis Grizzlies during a game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Wesley Matthews Jr. and Dennis Smith Jr. said they were napping before the Mavericks' game against the Pistons on Thursday and woke up to the news that they had been dealt to the Knicks. The lesson might be, don’t ever close your eyes as the trade deadline approaches.

Matthews and DeAndre Jordan were asked about the speculation that they could be very short-term pieces for the Knicks. Both are on expiring contracts, and if they aren’t traded, they could be bought out to allow them to play for a contender.

“I’m happy here,” Jordan said.

“Our job is to go out here and compete every night and get better,” Matthews said. “It’s not to read tabloids or social media and all that. I found out I was traded during a nap while getting ready to play Detroit. Things happen quickly. I didn’t know what to expect. Every single day, I’m going to wake up, go to work, try to get better, try to get this team better and figure out how to get a win on Tuesday.”

While the biggest pieces in the trade for the Knicks are the salary-cap space cleared and the two future first-round draft picks, they do have hopes for Smith. The team passed on him in the 2017 NBA Draft, selecting Frank Ntilikina one spot ahead of where the Mavs picked Smith.

“I’m thankful to be here,” Smith said. “I went through the draft process obviously, came up to New York for a little bit. I went out to eat with [current Knicks president and then-general manager] Steve Mills. We had a really good time. We built a solid relationship from the time that I was here last year, so I’m thankful to be here. It was already written, so I’m trying to hit the ground running, compete as hard as I can.”

He comes in peace

The Grizzlies' Joakim Noah was booed loudly when he entered the game and every time he touched the ball. He was bought out by the Knicks earlier this season, long after the team exiled him after a confrontation with since-fired coach Jeff Hornacek at a practice last season.

Noah insisted he has put it behind him. “It’s not that serious, man. It’s over,” he said. “I was told I was going to play and I didn’t. I was [upset] about it and things escalated. Things should never escalate like that between a coach and a player. And I’m not going to throw Hornacek under the bus even though that’s not my guy. 

“I’m not throwing anybody under the bus. That’s not my style. I’m not throwing Steve Mills under the bus. Or talking [trash] about him. I’m not talking [trash] about Hornacek. That’s not my style. I take ownership in what I did, what I could have done better. And I know that there were 10 things that went wrong that year. But it is what it is. I’m in Memphis. And the Memphis Grizzlies beat the New York Knicks tonight.”

Kanter sits, mostly

Enes Kanter never got in Sunday's game, but after clapping along with fans who were loudly chanting “We want Kanter,” he thought he had been called into the game. Coach David Fizdale stopped him as he headed to the scorer’s table and sent him back to the end of the bench.

“Yeah, I said ‘Dennis’ and it sounded like ‘Enes,’ I guess,” Fizdale said. “So that’s my luck. Coach took a charge. He wanted to run all the way to the scorer’s table, make it a bigger spectacle.”

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