Though NBA teams don't formally start training camp until next month, Mike Woodson and the Knickerbockers are getting to work a bit earlier.
As ESPN New York reported, the Knicks came together as a collective group on Monday, logging hours at the team's training facility. While Tyson Chandler and Pablo Prigioni were reportedly not at the workout, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony did in fact headline the players present.
What's more, both J.R. and Chris Smith (along with injured guards Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer) were in New York City to help raise money for a charity recognizing the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks yesterday, so perhaps the Smith brothers participated in the session the day prior as well.
Extra time in the gym to help the team come together and build an on-the-court understanding is key at this point in time. After a season and a half of ups and downs, and claims that more time was necessary to gel, the pressure is on for STAT and Melo to lead the Knicks to the next level.
In addition, Stoudemire, Anthony, and Chandler will spearhead their first "full" training camp with the Knicks this season. Starting a couple of weeks early, the idea is certainly to make up for lost time.
But the players themselves don't make all the difference. After years and years of preaching a defensive presence that never emerged, the Knicks now have Woodson, a defensive specialist, running the show.
After leading New York to an 18-6 finish and helping elevate their defensive effort last season, Woodson proved he's the right man for the job. In addition to formally naming Woodson their head coach, the Knicks also made strides to surround their "Big Three" with proven veteran role players to help balance the team from A to Z. The experience players like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas bring will certainly come in handy come playoff time.
With a steady coach and even better talent throughout, there's no reason why the Knicks cannot or should not become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. With Derrick Rose expected to miss much of the season for the Bulls, a shakeup in the rankings is sure to occur.
This is New York's time. The team has made vast improvements--from the roster to the coaching staff--and now there are no excuses for failure. With fans all around the Big Apple craving success, the Knicks now boast the best team on paper they've had in just about a decade.
With so many positives surrounding the team, the time is now to put up or shut up for the Knicks. Frankly, there's nowhere else to go but up.