“D’Antoni, he relies on his veterans more than rookies,” Hill told the Chronicle. “He feels like his rookies need to learn more their first year so they could get everything down pat. I understood. I just wanted to wait patiently until my time was coming. My chance was here [in Houston], and I’m making the best of it.
“Fans there, they know what I can do. I just didn’t have the opportunity to show it.”In the three-team deal that sent both Hill and Jeffries to Houston, the Knicks cleared salary-cap space and got Tracy McGrady’s $23 million expiring contract. They now have more than $30 million in cap space to pursue two max-contract free agents this summer. “Under normal cirumstances you would not do that [trade a rookie],” D’Antoni said. “This is not normal. This is where we are and we’ve gone through the last two years to put us in a position where we could get to where we wanted to go. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do what you think is best. I think what [Knicks president] Donnie [Walsh] did was definitely the best thing to do.” As for the loss of Hill, D’Antoni didn’t sound broken up. “I do like Jordan,” he said. “I think he’ll be a nice player in the league, but that’s as far as it goes.” BENDER TO HAVE SURGERY Jonathan Bender wore a cast on his left hand and will have surgery Monday on his fractured fourth metacarpal. He broke the finger during Friday’s win over Philadelphia. “The next thing I’m thinking about is getting this hand fixed and just rehabbing from there,” the 7-foot Bender said. He said he estimated his recovery time at “four-to-six weeks, something like that.” Bender averaged 4.7 points and 2.1 rebounds after joining the Knicks in December. Before that, he hadn’t played in three years because of chronic knee problems. Bender said he wasn’t sure what his plans are for next year and beyond. “My goal was to get back, I made it back,” he said. “After I made it back, I was satisfied. Where it goes from here, it’s up in the air.” (Photos courtesy NBA.com) Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter