BALKY BACK LEAVES STALLION SIDELINED
By MARC BERMAN
Last updated: 7:30 am
July 17, 2008
Posted: 2:40 am
LAS VEGAS - The Italian Stallion already has broken down.
Knick 6-foot-10 rookie Danilo Gallinari is expected to be shut down for the rest of the five-game Las Vegas summer league with a sore back after missing yesterday's 82-67 loss to the Spurs.
Gallinari took a physical pounding against the Cavaliers on Monday and sat out the final five minutes of his 14-point summer-league debut with back soreness.
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Though disappointed, the New York Knicks aren't worried the rail-thin Gallinari couldn't make it past one summer-league game. They believe the back soreness is a cumulative condition.
Gallinari, 19, came off his Italian League season that ended in early June, flew immediately to the U.S. to work out for three teams, then trained hard for two weeks in Westchester after getting selected sixth by the Knicks.
The two-a-day practices in Vegas and his rendezvous with 300-pound Cavaliers center Robert "Tractor" Traylor was the final straw.
"I'd like to see him play but I think it's smarter not to play," Knick president Donnie Walsh said.
"It's precautionary. We don't want to put him out there in position that it gets worse. It's a combination of not having time off [after Italy], going two-a-days, getting hit by a player like Traylor a couple of times."
It was a rotten Knicks day all around. The Knicks lost out on a chance to trade Zach Randolph to the Clippers, who instead turned to Marcus Camby to fill their cap space.
Renaldo Balkman went down in agony in the first half with a severely sprained ankle and left the arena on crutches, heading for the X-ray room. And their new free-agent signee, former University of Florida's Anthony Roberson, shot just 4 of 13 for 12 points.
During his miserable first half, Gallinari was tossed to the floor like a rag doll when Traylor backed him in to the basket for an uncontested layup. The play was illustrative of Gallinari's lack of strength, and raises fear he may be overpowered as a rookie.
If any rookie could use summer-league to adapt him to the NBA's physical play, it is Gallinari. But the Knicks claim not to be worried because he will get plenty of more basketball in with the Italian National team that starts in August as Italy tries to qualify for the next Olympics.
"I never had great problems with my back," Gallinari said. "This problem comes now, so we take care of it. Most of the end of [Monday's] game I was really sore."
Gallinari had an MRI exam yesterday morning that didn't reveal anything serious, but the Knicks don't want him playing with pain.
"We want to make sure we do the right thing," coach Mike D'Antoni. "The right thing is to shut it down. Getting run over by Tractor Traylor doesn't help anybody."
Meanwhile, Walsh, who also talked to Denver about Camby, will have to dig deeper to unload Randolph's long-term contract after turning down a second-round pick from the Clips.
Walsh is adamant he wants either a serviceable player or a first-round pick, not just expiring contracts. The Clippers didn't give up anything to Denver, other than a swap of second-rounders.