The following gentlemen will play tonight for the first time in a Knicks jersey at Madison Square Garden: Raymond Felton, Landry Fields, Roger Mason Jr., Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andy Rautins, Ronny Turiaf, and Shawne Williams. That's a lot of new guys. Bring a scorecard, or, more accurately, your iPhone with the NBA roster app. Tonight's preseason game against Boston is the first time you're going to see any of these guys together. It's pretty new to them, too.
One probably shouldn't look into exhibition games too much, good or bad, particularly with a team with so many new players together for the first time like the Knicks, but the team's early showings have nonetheless been rather far from impressive. No one can rebound, there's nearly zero post presence, and no one's really meshing yet. (Anthony Randolph, the player we're perhaps most excited about, has been particularly off, completely lacking a jump shot so far.)
The biggest news item concerning tonight's game is that mysterious Russian import Timofey Mozgov is going to start, ahead of Ronny Turiaf and (we guess, though he's far from a center) Randolph. Mozgov will have the opportunity to hone his already impressive prowess at picking up fouls when he's banging around with Shaquille O'Neal tonight. (Shaq plays for the Celtics now. Weird, right? Actually, he might end up with tonight off.) Mozgov will be the attraction for the gawking curious tonight, the carnival monkey starting at center who nobody knows. The Daily News had a fun riff on Mozgov in their game story this morning:
Mozgov has adjusted well. Although he doesn't require an interpreter, he doesn't understand certain words. Mozgov, though, is familiar with the Russian character "Drago" from "Rocky IV." He also said he would like to hear a Russian song played when he scores. A couple of years ago, Danilo Gallinari said he didn't appreciate hearing stereotypical Italian music after he scored, and the by the next game, his music was altered to suit his tastes. "I like Russian rap, Russian rock," Mozgov said.
We know it's not Russian, but still, how about:
But tonight, really, will be about Amar'e Stoudemire, and the hope that his very presence gives a long-tortured fan base. Amar'e Stoudemire is playing tonight at the Garden ... for the Knicks! After the last decade, that's something we shouldn't take for granted. If you ignore that Eddy Curry–shaped blob at the end of the bench, you won't even know this team has any relation to the Isiah Knicks at all. It's the start of something, tonight. Maybe it'll be good, and maybe it won't, but it's new. But we're tired of talking about the Knicks: a little less conversation, guys, a little more action.