Healthy Rose, Noah key to Knicks' for­tunes

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Brian Ma­honey AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

Af­ter go­ing 32-50 and miss­ing the play­offs for the third straight year last sea­son, the Knicks en­ter a new cam­paign with their hopes de­pend­ing on whether Der­rick Rose and Joakim Noah can stay healthy.

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 NBArecord 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 SEVILLE

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.

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