HOUSTON -- Amar'e Stoudemire is a lock to represent the Knicks in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles and Raymond Felton should get strong consideration to join him. There was a time over the last decade that the Knicks only had a presence in the Saturday festivities, with Nate Robinson highlighting the Slam Dunk contest and players such as Channing Frye,Robinson, David Lee, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari participating in the Rookie Challenge game.
Like Stoudemire, it seems a given Landry Fields, a two-time Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month winner, will also get an invite to LA next month, to play in the Rookie Challenge. It would be the fifth time in the last six years that the Knicks have had a player in that showcase of the league's young talent.
But what about the other events? The Knicks could find themselves well-represented at the league's weekend-long party.
Shawne Williams currently leads the NBA in three-point shooting (53.2 percent), though he barely qualifies with 62 attempts in 23 games (2.7 per game). Shawne didn't want to hear that he was leading the league from downtown and felt his 0-for-9 slump over the last two games knocked him out of the top spot. Well, it didn't. And if he can keep the pace for the next month (14 games), he should at least be considered for the Three-Point Shootout.
"I can't really think about it, it's too early," Williams said at Wednesday's shoot-around before the game against the Rockets.
But if asked, the former first round pick said, "I would, yeah."
Bill Walker would too. "That's the contest I want to be in," he said. But Walker's name has already been linked to the other event on All-Star Saturday: the Slam Dunk contest.
ESPN's Chris Broussard asked him on Monday if he'd enter the contest in case Brandon Jennings pulls out because of his injury. Walker said he would.
"If I got invited, I'd do it," Walker said this morning.
The 6-6 Walker, who was a prolific dunker in high school, said he has never competed in an organized Slam Dunk contest in his life. But that doesn't mean he has nothing to offer.
"I got some stuff in the vault," he said. "I can't tell you."
He did reveal that during drills in practice on Tuesday at MSG Training Center, he pulled off a 720.
The league would have to invite Walker, only after Jennings -- or someone else -- pulls out of the contest. It didn't seem like a big deal to him either way.
"It was always fun-ner to dunk on somebody," he said.
This dunk here he considers his best posterization to date: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CygtkPHnXt8
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* - Mike D'Antoni said Ronny Turiaf, who missed the previous game with a hip injury, will play tonight against the Rockets. But Turiaf will come off the bench, as D'Antoni says he will stick with his lineup with Stoudemire at center. D'Antoni believes the Knicks are at their best with Stoudemire at the five. Stoudemire doesn't fancy himself a center, he said, but is willing to do whatever is asked of him. "It's the most versatile year I've ever played in my career," he said.
* - Former Knicks lottery pick Jordan Hill is starting to show signs of development with the Rockets, who desperately need the young big man to emerge into a contributing role with the injury to Yao Ming. Hill said today that playing the Knicks is "just another game for me" at this point. There are two ways to view the decision to draft Hill in 2009: Awful because in a point guard-heavy draft you went with a project big (and passed on Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Darren Collison, to name a few who are already contributing). But productive because Hill was eventually used to move Jared Jeffries' contract, which opened up enough room to allow the Knicks to sign a veteran point guard in Raymond Felton. Oh and as a friend pointed out to me today, the notion that Hill wasn't developed as a Knick because D'Antoni doesn't like to play rookies is debunked by the presence of Fields, who will start his 41st game of the season tonight.
* - Does Mike have Melo on the mind? D'Antoni was discussing how difficult it is to stop Stoudemire and went to use an example of how star players aren't really ever "stopped" when you defend them. "If we play Carmelo," he began, until he realized what he had done. He then tried to quickly transition: "Uh, or if we play LeBron . . ." But it was too late. Once his point was made, a Carmelo question came his way.
"I opened up a Pandora's Box," D'Antoni said with a head shake.
When asked if the ongoing rumors regarding Carmelo was getting tiresome, D'Antoni replied, "No, not at all. You know what I find tiresome? Losing."