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Walsh and Nate's agent have amicable conversation

Knicks president Donnie Walsh said Friday that he had a polite conversation with Nate Robinson's agent, Aaron Goodwin, during the past week about the guard's place in coach Mike D'Antoni's doghouse.

"Any time he's talked to me, he's been very courteous, and look, he wants Nate to get out in front," Walsh said. "I told him, 'Look, from Mike's first statement on this, he said Nate's going out of the rotation but it won't be forever. I'll get back to you.' "

Goodwin (who did not return a call seeking comment) shouldn't be waiting by the phone. Going into Friday's game against the Clippers, D'Antoni had shown no inclination to play Robinson, even with Larry Hughes sidelined with a strained left groin.

D'Antoni, who was a little testy in his pregame media briefing Friday, was asked if he thought about using Robinson as the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - frittered away a fourth-quarter lead Thursday night in Chicago.

"I always think about it," he said. "I'm trying to do what's best for the team. But again, you go in a certain direction . . . At the end of the game you go, 'Oh, man, I could have done that.' Well, yeah, at the end of the game, I would have changed something. I didn't know we were going to lose. I thought we were going to win."

Hughes, meanwhile, said he hopes to return Sunday against Charlotte but won't know until he practices Saturday.

The ol' switcheroo

D'Antoni pulled a pregame surprise, starting Danilo Gallinari over Al Harrington for the first time since Dec. 2. Gallinari had a dreadful first half, shooting 0-for-4 with more turnovers (three) than points (two). Harrington shot 1-for-8 for two points off the bench.

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