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Will Knicks' Curry make his Garden debut?

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Fans who bought a ticket to tomorrow's Knicks-Raptors game hoping for a chance to weigh in on Eddy Curry likely will be disappointed.

Curry, who has yet to play a 2008-09 regular-season game at the Garden, sat out practice Thursday with pain in his troublesome left knee. Whether he plays will be a game-time decision, but if history is any indicator, it doesn't seem as if he will push himself to get back on the court.

Prodding Curry back into game action was supposed to be one of the team's priorities heading into the final weeks of the season. Curry played his first game in nearly three months last Saturday at Charlotte and followed it with a season-high 6 minutes, 48 seconds on Monday in Utah. Knee pain, however, forced him to miss Tuesday night's loss in Denver.

The Knicks have only three home games left this season, and there is some thought - OK, make that conjecture among the media - that Curry wouldn't mind not having to take the floor and face the wrath of a less-than-happy home crowd.

Curry has a contract with the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - that runs through 2011 and will pay him $21.7 million. He has played a total of 12 minutes spread over three games this season. He also has had a horrific time off the court, facing the murder of his former girlfriend and several legal battles.

One reason there was some conjecture Thursday about Curry's state of mind is that even though he was riding a bike on the sideline at practice, he left the gym without talking to reporters.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said he hasn't given a whole lot of thought to what kind of reception Garden fans will give Curry. "Whatever it is, it is," he said.

David Lee said he hopes fans will give Curry a chance if he plays.

"I hope the reaction will be positive," Lee said. "Then, if he doesn't play well and deserves [to be booed], he can get it like the rest of us do when we deserve it and don't play well."

Notes & quotes: When asked about an SI.com report that he will be on the trading block this summer, Lee said he hopes to remain with the Knicks next season. "My preference is to be here," he said. "I think we're going in the right direction and I want to be a part of it." . . . Larry Hughes (sprained right ankle) and Quentin Richardson (sprained left ankle) sat out practice and are day-to-day.

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