Knicks introduce 4 new acquisitions to help rebuild
LAS VEGAS (AP) Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Kyle O'Quinn and Derrick Williams all were handed their white New York Knicks jerseys for the first time, then posed for dozens of photos inside a hotel ballroom.
Smiles all around.
It's a good start for the Knicks.
The four free-agent acquisitions were introduced in Las Vegas on Friday, all of them convinced of two things: they made the right choice by picking New York, and that a season like this past one where the Knicks finished with the worst record in team history won't be repeated anytime soon.
''They didn't have to do too much recruiting, man,'' Afflalo said. ''I wanted to be here. I saw an opportunity to kind of get into a situation where they were looking to rise up again. That's what you want to be part of, a challenging situation that brings out the best in you.''
Afflalo and Lopez figure to be strong candidates to start for the Knicks, Williams could easily get into that mix as well and O'Quinn will probably be backing up Lopez down low. There's tons of opportunity for all four, which is to be expected considering that the Knicks are coming off a 17-65 season and likely will be changing up more than a few things.
''I think playoffs are a possibility,'' Lopez said. ''I think it's a little hard to say. Things fluctuate, obviously. It's hard to say until the ball's thrown up and the season begins. But I think what's most important is we have a very good foundation. I think we have a lot of high-character guys.''
O'Quinn is a Queens native, and his parents still are there. He learned to play a tough brand of ball there, and said he'll bring the same to the Knicks.
''I've got to stick to what got me here: the grittiness, doing the things that nobody tends to want to do every night, dive on the floor, do the dirty work, set a nice screen to get somebody open,'' O'Quinn said. ''Those are the things I like doing.''
Lopez coming to New York will certainly add some more juice to Knicks-Nets games next season - with his brother Brook starting at center for Brooklyn. Brook is the more accomplished player to this point; Robin is the one with the better comic flair, replete with a knack for tackling mascots in just about every NBA arena.
For the record, no, he doesn't plan on taking on the Times Square mascots anytime soon. And he scoffed at a notion that Brook would be letting him live in his attic.
''I think he said under the stairs, a la Harry Potter. It's a very `Muggle' response,'' he said, using a term that only Potter fans would understand is one describing someone who lacks magical powers. ''I think he's trying to hinder or suppress whatever mystical abilities I may have. He can't understand them and I don't blame him for that.''
Later, the quick wit continued when he said playing more against his brother was ''intriguing.''
''Obviously there's already a rivalry in place. I think this will spice it up a little bit,'' Robin Lopez said. ''I have a brother who's out there living with him and I can see him a little more often. I don't care about seeing Brook. It'll make it easier on Mom. There won't be quite as much traveling.''
While quick wit is one thing, the Knicks are probably looking for a quick turnaround.
Their goal for the summer was to find help for Carmelo Anthony, the right pieces to start the climb back to the playoffs and maybe the core of something bigger.
Afflalo said he's already embracing the challenge that Madison Square Garden will present.
''I love the competitiveness of the fan base,'' Afflalo said. ''I love the competitiveness of the environment, playing in MSG every night, playing with a familiar teammate like Melo ... it was everything I was looking for.''
Williams felt the same way. After starting his career in Minnesota and Sacramento, he's ready for a big market.
''I want to play on the biggest stage,'' Williams said, ''and it can't get any bigger than the Garden.''
The Knicks also announced they had re-signed forward Lance Thomas, who averaged 8.3 points in 40 games last season after signing a 10-day contract in January.