DICE DRILLS, BUT RETURN ISN'T SET

November 7, 2003 -- It was a small step, but at this point, Antonio McDyess will take any sign of progress.
McDyess, continuing his seemingly neverending recovery from a fractured kneecap, finally practiced with his teammates yesterday and was clearly pleased with the results.

"This was the first time I've been out there with the team since the injury," McDyess said after he participated in some drills as the Knicks prepared for tonight's game against the Kings at the Garden. "Just having the opportunity was really a confidence builder."

But, as usual, there was a bit of a conflict between McDyess' take on the situation and head coach Don Chaney's. While both continued to preach patience, it was once again clear that McDyess has a brighter look at the situation than does his coach.

"There was contact," McDyess said. "We did some 3-on-2 drills, where there's two guys on defense and three on offense and then you switch. But we weren't banging."

Chaney said earlier that there had been "no contact" with McDyess during the drills.

"It was the same stuff he was doing by himself, now with teammates," Chaney said. "He's getting there."



That, they could agree on, especially since the Knicks have three days between games next week.

"It will be a big step next week to see how [the knee] is," McDyess said.

Although McDyess said he felt good yesterday, he understands the need for much more practice before he is ready to come back.

"I'm still in control," said McDyess, adding that he was confident that Chaney had a good read on his status since the coach was now able to watch him more closely. "I'm trying to determine how I feel. Right now, I'm not confident when I step on the court."

McDyess quickly emphasized that the discomfort wasn't physical and instead was a product of not having played for such an extended period.

"It was the first time I was out there in a long time," McDyess said. "I've got to get back in the flow with the team."

Watching the Knicks stumble to another slow start - even their one victory now seems tarnished after Orlando lost on Wednesday to the lowly Bulls - hasn't made sitting any easier.

"I see points in the game when I say to myself, 'I could be in there to help them,' " McDyess said. "But I have to still be patient."

Chaney is making sure of that.

"He's all excited and everyone is excited, but you still have to stay with the program," Chaney said of his reluctance to put McDyess in any 4-on-4 drills. "You don't want to skip steps."

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