Though the Knicks will now bring a total of six players to training camp on non-guaranteed contracts, the team certainly has a veteran-like mentality.
With so much at stake, and the team already boasting quite the impressive roster, the pressure is there to win. After going through the motions for the last two seasons, claiming players on the team needed more time to gel, the time is now. For the Knicks, there are no more excuses. An underwhelming season will clearly be unacceptable--- to the franchise, the media, and basketball fans alike.
28 year old NBA prospect Chris Copeland (one of those non-guaranteed invitees) is simply along for the ride. He spoke with my pal, Jared Zwerling from ESPN NY, about what he's been learning from the more experienced players since guys started to work out together last week at the team's training facility.
In addition to talking about his own individual progress, the big man has said he's already recognized the team's level of motivation as they head into training camp. Copeland added:
"This is a really motivated team -- even the guys that are coming back from injuries," Copeland said. "You look at Iman's work ethic, it's unbelievable. Ronnie's work ethic is unbelievable. We have what it takes to score and make stops. From a defensive standpoint, I think we have every piece of the puzzle. Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler at the five spot -- I think that says it all in itself. We have pieces all around that can do amazing work."
And clearly, there should be some sense of urgency as the Knicks head into next season. After watching LeBron James & Dwyane Wade win an NBA title together this past June, the clock is ticking for Carmelo Anthony to prove that he too is a winner from his draft class. Coming off a down season filled with injuries and personal struggle, Amar'e Stoudemire needs to show he can bounce back effectively and further prove he and Anthony have what it takes to succeed as a pair in the Big Apple.
The list goes on. Mike Woodson has the made the effort to interact with his players all offseason long, doing what he can to help them improve upon last season's campaigns. After showing loyalty to him by not exploring other coaching options this summer, the Knicks are hoping Woodson continues to prove he's the right man for the job.
Though the careers of veterans like Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas are close to winding down, both players are still gunning for that coveted NBA championship trophy. A player like Raymond Felton is faced with proving the Knicks did the right thing by taking a chance on him, yet again, after a poor 2011-2012 campaign.
The list of motivated players and ones with something to prove goes on and on.
And it's Copeland who finds himself thrust into the madness. Looking to finally begin his NBA career, it appears as though he has plenty of veterans to help him finally stick this time. After averaging 14.3 points per game in Las Vegas Summer League in July, it seems like the forward would be the most likely of the invitees to actually make the team.
But it's safe to say, with that pressure already on him, Copeland fits right in with this ever so motivated bunch ready to hit the hardwood for the Knicks next month.