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.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Knicks are on a roll and Eddy Curry doesn’t want to mess it up.
The 7-foot Curry is expected to make his return to the court Friday night when the Knicks (7-15) meet Chris Paul and the Hornets in New Orleans.
Curry has been out since a Nov. 24 loss at the Lakers in which he banged his left knee and it became swollen.
“I really feel like I’m ready,” Curry said Thursday after his second straight day of practice. “So if he [head coach Mike D’Antoni] calls my name tomorrow I’ll be ready.”
After a 1-9 start, the Knicks have won three in a row and four of five. That run has come as D’Antoni has cut the rotation to eight players and the team has made a renewed commitment to defense.
D’Antoni’s biggest challenge will be blending Curry back into the mix while not disrupting the team’s newfound rhythm.
“There’s always concerns until it happens,” D’Antoni said. “I’ll look at the team and try to find a good spot and everything like that. We are going to get him back in there, it’s just a matter of I don’t want to disrupt everything so we just have to play it by ear a little bit.”
Curry has played in just four games this season, averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds, but center David Lee has bumps and bruises proving Curry is back at full health.
“He’s been elbowing me and ducking in,” Lee said. “He’s tough to handle, I’ll tell you what. His conditioning looks really good and more than anything his attitude is very, very good right now and he’s ready to contribute and help us out.”
Curry played in just three games for 12 minutes all of last season and then underwent a much publicized weight-training program last summer.
But he tore a calf muscle on the first day of training camp and then underwent more conditioning that enabled him to drop still more weight.
He made his season debut Nov. 18 at Indiana, scoring 10 points and grabbing four boards.
Now he hopes to return for a significant period of time and says he knocks wood every day to make it happen.
“That’s definitely what I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m looking forward to no more setbacks. I’m knocking the wood every single morning.”
If Curry can get back and play well consistently, he could become an attractive option for a team looking for a low-post presence.
The Knicks are looking to clear more salary-cap space for the summer of 2010 and trading Curry would allow them to pursue two maximum-contract free agents.
“Trade bait?” Curry asked after Monday’s win over Portland. “I’m going to relish any moment I can to play. Whether playing me to trade me, or playing me because they want to win games, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get out there. Although I don’t want to be traded.”
**D’Antoni said there was no update on the Nate Robinson situation. “I’m not going to switch up anything,” D’Antoni said.
The 5-9 guard has received DNPs in four straight games as D’Antoni has trimmed the rotation.
Asked how he felt about the situation Thursday, Robinson said, “Hangin’ in there.”
**At 7-15, the Knicks have crawled back into the periphery of the playoff race, but D’Antoni says it’s way too early to think about that.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go,” he said. “We’re not even talking [about playoffs]. We’re just trying to win Friday and then we’ll see what happens after that.”
**The Knicks will play exhibition games in Milan and France in October, allowing D’Antoni a chance to return to the city he played and coached for many years. “That’s a long ways off. It’ll be great, obviously. I’m looking forward to it, to say the least.”
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.