Knicks welcome new duo
Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2012
GREENBURGH, N.Y.— Jason Kidd is already talking about how he’ll mentor Jeremy Lin even as the New York Knicks aren’t ready to formally announce the young point guard will be returning.
The Knicks introduced newest members Kidd and Marcus Camby on Thursday, though the transaction everyone kept asking about was when they’ll re-sign the restricted free agent.
While the 39-year-old Kidd made clear he believes he can help the Knicks win games in crunch time, he also embraced the role of tutoring Lin in the intricacies of the point guard position.
“To have a chance to mentor a very good player in Jeremy — be able to share my secrets or what I’ve learned in my 18 years — for him hopefully to take it to another level, it’s something I look forward to doing,” Kidd said.
A day after coach Mike Woodson reiterated that Lin “absolutely” would be back, general manager Glen Grunwald said New York had yet to receive the Houston Rockets’ offer sheet. Grunwald said the Knicks’ did have Landry Fields’ offer sheet from the Toronto Raptors.
“Those are two young players who will hopefully be back here,” Grunwald said. “We’ll make our final determination when we need to make that determination. Now is not the time.”
Kidd, in contrast, talked with certainty about his future teammate Lin. The first lesson he plans to impart: Don’t play in “fifth gear” all the time.
“He just plays at one gear and that’s a very high gear,” Kidd said. “We need to sit down and talk about trying to find that fourth and third gear so he has the energy to finish ballgames. We want him to play the whole season. If you have just one gear, it’s hard to play 82 games.”
Lin missed the last 17 regular-season games and the first-round playoff loss to Miami after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Kidd recalled that at the start of his career, he, too, was always stuck in fifth gear. After arriving in Phoenix in his third season, he learned how to conserve energy.
“Now I only have two gears,” he joked. “There’s no shifting.”
Kidd said he was comfortable backing up Lin — at the start of games.
He still wants to be on the court at the end and hinted he and Lin could share the floor then.
“My job is to make Jeremy better in practice and stuff like that,” Kidd said. “At the end of the day, it’s about six minutes. If I’ve learned anything in the last 18 years is the last six minutes of any NBA game, if you’re down 15 or up 15, you can win or lose.”
Kidd said it was surreal to return to the New York area, where he led the New Jersey Nets to two NBA Finals appearances in seven seasons. Now the Nets are in Brooklyn and Kidd will be playing at Madison Square Garden.
The 38-year-old Camby’s career is also coming full circle. Hailing from nearby Hartford, Conn., he played for the Knicks from 1998-2002 before being traded to Denver for Antonio McDyess.
No hard feelings, Camby said.
“McDyess is not even in the league anymore,” he said with a smile, “and I’m still here.”
The Knicks did confirm Thursday they had re-signed Steve Novak.
Camby was acquired in a sign-and-trade with Houston on Wednesday. Kidd chose to leave Dallas, where he won the 2011 NBA title, for New York as a free agent.
Both expressed hope they could be the final pieces in a championship team, with as much talk about chemistry and veteran wisdom as basketball.
“This team has a lot of superstars, a lot of great talent, but it’s all about putting it together,” Camby said.
Grunwald believes Camby can still provide rebounding and shot-blocking in relief of Tyson Chandler.
“I know sometimes last year he put a lot of pressure on himself,” Camby said of Chandler, “because they really didn’t have anybody to replace him if he got in foul trouble or got hurt.”