GREENBURGH, N.Y. — C.J. Leslie‘s chances of making the Knicks’ final roster don’t look good.
Not at all.
The former N.C. State forward didn’t play at all in the Knicks’ 98-89 win over the Washington Wizards Thursday in Baltimore.
“He is a project,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Friday after practice. “No doubt about that. Right now the game is somewhat quick for him in terms of catching on to what we’re doing. I’ve seen that over the years since I’ve been coaching, a lot of young guys they struggle early because you throw so many things at them, it’s too fast. So we’re trying to slow it down a little a bit, spend more time with him in the classroom.
“I’ll take a little bit more look at him Toronto [on Monday] because we’ll rest some of these other guys and see how he plays.”
Leslie went undrafted and the Knicks ended up signing the 6-foot-9 N.C. State forward in July as a free agent. Now he’s looking to make the team’s final roster — and prove the doubters wrong. He has a reported guarantee for about $200,000.
With 12 other players signed to guaranteed contracts, Leslie is battling a group of other young players like Jeremy Tyler, Cole Aldrich, Ike Diogu, Josh Powell, Toure’ Murry, Chris Smith and Chris Douglas-Roberts for a place on the final roster.
As for Smith, the former Louisville guard and J.R.’s younger brother, he also faces obstacles in making the final roster.
“Chris is a young player that’s still trying to find his niche, too,” Woodson said. “We’re trying to help him but it’s going to be a process with all these young guys in terms of teaching the NBA ways and making sure they’re doing what’s asked of them on and off the floor.
“He’s competing which I expect him to do and he’s another guy that we’re going to make a decision on at the end of the month as well.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.