Knicks could be good, but Rose, Noah have to stay healthy
NEW YORK (AP) Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have been All-Stars on winning teams, yet also have struggled with injuries.
Carmelo Anthony is still an All-Star, though his best days may be behind him. Kristaps Porzingis could be one eventually, but for now his best days may be too far ahead.
For every reason to believe in the New York Knicks, there's another reason to question them. Even the guy who assembled them is optimistic but unsure.
''We hope that this team is going to prove that they're capable,'' said Phil Jackson, the Knicks' president of basketball operations.
If healthy, it should be. The talent has been ungraded with the trade for Rose, the former NBA MVP, and signings of Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. Yet all but Lee have missed significant time at some point because of injury, and Rose and Noah in particular have seen sharp drops in their production in recent years.
But Jackson decided to take some risks after the Knicks went 32-50 last season to miss the playoffs for the third straight year. And he hired another coach, bringing in Jeff Hornacek to open up the offense.
He hasn't had much time yet to see how well it can work.
Rose missed much of preseason while in Los Angeles because of a rape trial that ended Wednesday when he was cleared in a $21.5 million lawsuit that accused him and two friends of raping an ex-girlfriend while she said she was incapacitated from drugs or alcohol.
Rose made it through 66 games last season, his highest total since his injury troubles started with a torn ACL in the 2012 playoffs.
Noah got a late start on exhibition play because of hamstring and ankle injuries, renewing concerns about the center. He averaged a career-low 4.3 points last season in Chicago while limited to 29 games because of a dislocated left shoulder.
So the Knicks will be figuring things out as they open Tuesday at Cleveland. The potential is there for a strong season, but it can also be wrecked by the injury bug that Rose knows all too well.
''If him and Noah stay healthy, they can be a dangerous team,'' TNT analyst Charles Barkley said.
Here are things to watch as the Knicks begin their 70th anniversary season:
ON POINT: The Knicks are confident in Jennings running the team whenever Rose is unavailable. He said he is fully recovered from a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him about a year and has regained his quickness.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Anthony has advanced in the playoffs just twice, both in seasons after he won Olympic gold medals. He became men's basketball's first three-time gold medalist this summer and will be hoping this season resembles 2009 in Denver and 2013 in New York, when he was the NBA's leading scorer.
SHAPE OF THE OFFENSE: In two seasons under Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis, the Knicks ran the triangle offense that Jackson used to win an NBA-record 11 championships as coach. Hornacek said they will still run some of it, but will also look to push the ball more quickly to take advantage of Rose's speed and create more easy baskets.
WILLY FROM SEVILLA: While scouting Porzingis when he played in Spain, the Knicks noticed Guillermo ''Willy'' Hernandez, his teammate in Seville. The Knicks acquired Hernangomez's draft rights from Philadelphia in 2015, signed him in July, and hope the 6-foot-11 center who played on Spain's bronze medal-winning team in the Rio Olympics can become an important player off the bench.
PHIL'S FINALE?: Jackson has an option in his contract to leave after this season, which he said he had included in case there was a lockout. But he said he hasn't been thinking about what he'll do.
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