NBA

On team of newcomers, Curry looking to come back

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP)

Eddy Curry is the longest-tenured New York Knicks player, yet he's like many of the newcomers that dominate the roster.

He doesn't know his role on the team - if he still has one - and doesn't have much of a relationship with coach Mike D'Antoni.

And while all the players are eager to get started Saturday, none might have more at stake than Curry, whose once-promising career has stalled with no guarantee that another NBA job will be waiting next season.

''I think it's very important for me to get on the court and that's why I'm going to do everything I can in practice to get on the court in games,'' Curry said Friday during the team's media day.

The Knicks open training camp Saturday and just making it to the second day would be a positive step for their center. He couldn't do it in either of D'Antoni's previous two seasons, getting hospitalized two years ago with an illness on the eve of camp and tearing a calf muscle last year.

That put Curry behind and he was never able to catch up. He played in only three games in 2008-09 and seven last season, battling injuries and ineffectiveness and never proving to his coach that he deserved a spot in the rotation.

The No. 4 pick in the 2001 draft said he was told by team president Donnie Walsh that he'll be given a shot this season, and he needs to make something of it to convince the Knicks or another team to sign him when his contract expires after this season.

''I have to do what I have to do. I have to come in here and play and dominate practice and just let the chips fall where they may,'' Curry said, adding that he hasn't spoken to D'Antoni so he doesn't know the coach's intentions.

Curry was traded to the Knicks in 2005, so he's been in New York for five of its franchise-worst nine straight losing seasons. With 10 new players on the roster, the Knicks think they have a shot at the postseason now.

''I really feel like we're definitely a top-eight team in the East,'' said forward Amare Stoudemire, the former Phoenix Suns All-Star who signed with the Knicks in July.

''We're really, really trying to get back in the playoffs. Anything less than that will not be a success, so we all have to have the same type of mentality.''

Stoudemire and point guard Raymond Felton get two starting spots, with Danilo Gallinari back at another forward spot. The Knicks' busy offseason netted a number of players who could man the center spot, from Ronny Turiaf to Russian Timofey Mozgov, to even Stoudemire if D'Antoni uses a smaller lineup as he mostly did when the two were together in Phoenix.

Then there's Curry, who averaged 19.5 points while playing 81 games in 2006-07. He's appeared in just 69 since, with fourth-year guard Wilson Chandler guessing he'd played only a handful of games with Curry.

''He actually played my first year, but I wasn't playing,'' Chandler said. ''Eddy, when he's playing, he's a great player. He's very athletic. ... I'm looking forward to getting him back.''

Curry said he's healthy and in good shape, but there's still the question of whether he fits in D'Antoni's system. Even if the Knicks can't use him, they'd love to be able to get something for him, with Curry's $11.3 million expiring contract perhaps making him attractive in a trade.

And though Curry could benefit if he went to a team that wants a traditional, back-to-the-basket center, he said that's not on his mind.

''I'm not even going to say the word 'trade,' because I'm not getting fined,'' Curry said. ''Second of all, I'm not even thinking like that. I'm here right now, I like where I am right now. I think this is a great opportunity to really keep working and show people what I can do.''

The Knicks are one of the teams getting an early start because they will travel to Italy and Paris to play exhibition games. That gives D'Antoni a couple of extra days to sort out his rotation - and Curry additional time to prove he belongs in it.

''Only thing I can do is be ready to go every day and be ready for anything that happens,'' he said.

Tagged: Knicks, Eddy Curry

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