Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — It didn’t take long for ‘Spanish Chocolate’ to get the call.
No, we’re not talking about a type of coffee, but rather the new Knicks’ point guard.
Sergio Rodriguez, obtained at the trading deadline in the Tracy McGrady deal, will make his first start of the season in just his second game with the Knicks.
“Tonight, we’ll change it. Sergio will start,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said before the Knicks faced Milwaukee on Legends Night at Madison Square Garden.
The 6-foot-3, 176-pound native of Tenerife, Spain will take over the point guard duties from the struggling Chris Duhon.
“My style? I like to play in transition, pick and rolls, get in the paint and see who’s open,” Rodriguez said.
“I’m fast. I like to get everybody involved. I like to [have] my teammates be happy with me when I’m on the court and that’s the important thing.”
Rodriguez also jumped Toney Douglas in the pecking order.
“We’ve seen Toney. We haven’t really seen Sergio and we want to do that first of all,” D’Antoni said. “And we liked what Sergio did last game. I thought he gave us a lot more speed, a rhythm to the game and definitely passed the ball around. I liked his energy and I’m curious to see what he can do.”
Rodriguez played 25-plus minutes off the bench in Saturday’s 121-118 overtime loss to Oklahoma City, notching 5 points, 6 assists and 2 turnovers.
Duhon started and played 20 minutes with 0 points, 2 assists and 0 turnovers.
Asked what had happened to Duhon since last year, D’Antoni said:
“It’s a tough position first of all. The flux of the team up and down, a lot of things can get in your head….There doesn’t seem to be a pop there right now.”
D’Antoni has already experimented at the point guard spot, starting Nate Robinson over Duhon for two games before eventually going back to Duhon. Robinson has since been traded to Boston, who the Knicks visit Wednesday.
“I don’t think Nate’s a point guard, even when I tried it,” D’Antoni said. “It was kind of out of desperation. Sergio’s a point guard so we want to see what he can do as a point guard.”
T-MAC READY TO GO
With the Knicks about to embark on a back-to-back set of games with the Bucks and Celtics, one question mark is how McGrady will hold up.
He played 32 minutes and scored 26 points against the Thunder on Saturday night, but played only 19 seconds in the OT. He admitted before that game he’s “definitely not 100 percent” recovered from his microfracture knee surgery and is still working his way back into form.
“I think we’ll find out tomorrow after the game. Today for sure,” D’Antoni said of McGrady’s status. “We’ll see about tomorrow [Wednesday].
WALKER’S STATUSBilly Walker did not play against the Thunder, but D’Antoni said he’d like to see what he can contribute.
“That is one player that we definitely want to look at before the year is over. Hopefully [J.R.] Giddens can get back before the year is out. I don’t know for sure about his knee,” D’Antoni said.
Giddens had left knee surgery and hopes to return before the year is out.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.