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Knicks Pursuing Telfair

December 15, 2010

We all saw this coming, so it’s no surprise. The Knicks need a deeper team if they are going to play D’Antoni ball. Hopefully, Telfair can steal minutes and keep the ball rolling in MSG.

From New York Times:

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Coach Mike D’Antoni’s orders are music to a player’s ears, but havoc on his lungs. D’Antoni’s rotation is tight and his directive is to run.

Point guard Raymond Felton had trouble with the concept in the preseason and at the beginning of the season. He found a happy medium, and his play is a large portion of the Knicks’ recent success (13 wins in 14 games). But with no natural backup, Felton is logging a career-high 38.6 minutes a game.

Amar’e Stoudemire is right beside Felton, on the court for 37.4 minutes a game. Both ranked among the top 16 in the N.B.A. entering Tuesday.

D’Antoni is acutely aware of the minutes and the potential costs later in the season, when the mileage starts to accrue. At practice Tuesday, D’Antoni said he would like to trim his top players’ minutes slightly.

“I would love to cut some minutes off our guys,” D’Antoni said. “They’re playing a little bit too many minutes now, but we’ve got to win also. It’s a little bit of a balancing act. I’m trying to find ways I can shave minutes off.

“If we were in a deadlock for one of the top four spots, then I would be concerned about it, but we’re trying to make the playoffs, and that’s where we’re at.”

D’Antoni said he would limit his players’ practice time and offer more days off. Other N.B.A. teams compensate in a similar manner. Through age and injuries, the Los Angeles Lakers’ tandem of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher rarely practice and rarely miss games.

There is another way to reduce minutes, D’Antoni joked.

“If they would just start winning by 20 points, then I could give them the fourth quarter off,” he said. “That’s on them.”

Felton and Stoudemire are welcoming the cutback, but Felton said he would feel comfortable playing 40 minutes a game.

Chris Duhon, Felton’s predecessor as the Knicks’ point guard, started capably his first year with the organization, hit a wall because of the heavy minutes and never recovered. But Felton is proving that he is a step above Duhon.

In Charlotte last season, Felton split time with D. J. Augustin, then one of the league’s better backup point guards. Toney Douglas is Felton’s primary backup with the Knicks, but Douglas is more equipped to play off the ball.

The rookie Andy Rautins is the team’s only other possible point guard. Rautins has made only two cameo appearances, but D’Antoni is hesitant to send him to the N.B.A. Development League because of the team’s lack of depth at the position.

The Knicks are perusing the league for backup candidates and have held multiple discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves concerning Sebastian Telfair, according to an executive involved in the discussions. The Timberwolves will probably not make a move until they gauge the health of Jonny Flynn, their young point guard who recently returned from a hip injury.

Meanwhile, the Knicks prepared to host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, and one or more streaks will end. Stoudemire has scored at least 30 points in a franchise-record eight straight games, all Knicks victories. The Celtics have a league-best 10-game winning streak, last losing on Nov. 21.

“I don’t understand questions about are we there yet,” Felton said. “We’re doing better than any other team in the league right now.”

Stoudemire said: “We’ve got to make our mark first before we start any rivalry. We’re just getting started regaining some respect here as a team. We got no room to start rivalries right now.”

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