GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Eddy Curry has leaned on assistant coach Herb Williams many times in the past few seasons while working on his low-post game. But on the night of Sept. 29 in Saratoga, Curry needed Williams for support just to get through a hotel lobby and into a car, which whisked him to the hospital to treat a bacterial infection that caused him to miss the entire week of training camp.
Yesterday, the two were side by side at the MSG Training Center, back where they're more accustomed to such physical contact. Curry wasn't 100 percent, but it was the best he'd felt in more than a week. The 6-11, 285-pound center took the court for the first time this season with his teammates and for the first time since he suffered a season-ending cartilage tear in his right knee in early March.
"Obviously a little winded," Curry said, "but I feel good."
Mike D'Antoni's first impressions of the mammoth Curry were blunt: "He looked big." Even after a week of involuntary regurgitation, Curry's weight is always an issue. His conditioning and ability to run at the pace D'Antoni demands of all of his players in this high-octane system will be under heavy scrutiny.
But after one day, D'Antoni said: "You're not going to be able to tell. You've got to give him a week or two to get his legs and everything. It's just good to have him on the floor. He's a great kid and he'll work hard and we'll take baby steps with him."
Such steps could include having Curry come off the bench in favor of a smaller, faster lineup in which 6-9 David Lee (who quietly has had an impressive camp) would get extensive minutes at center. D'Antoni already planned to give 6-11 Jared Jeffries a long look at Curry's center spot before Jeffries broke his leg last week in practice.
Curry said he is not ready to surrender his starting role just yet, but he also didn't make any threats if he isn't among the starting five.
"I'm not really planning to come off the bench. I plan to start," said Curry, who started all but one game last season for Isiah Thomas. "But if that's where he sees me playing, that's what's going to happen. But as of now, I'm not planning to come off the bench."
Notes & quotes: Danilo Gallinari has been cleared to do more extensive work as he continues to recover from a bulging disc in his lower back. The rookie forward worked out Sunday and did a lot of shooting drills with some running during yesterday's practice ... Tired legs are starting to show after a week of practices, but D'Antoni has marveled at the seemingly limitless energy of Nate Robinson, who has stood out as the most consistently impressive guard in camp so far. Robinson, who is beginning his fourth season, is playing with a high level of confidence and a noticeable comfort level in this new system. He even snapped at veteran Stephon Marbury for a poor decision during the scrimmage ... Yesterday's practice was broadcast live on NBA TV, which included interviews with D'Antoni, president Donnie Walsh and a few players. It was the first time in years that the Knicks have allowed cameras in to record practice and certainly an opportune time to showcase to the other 29 teams in the league some of the players they'd like to move.