“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.