While the New York Knicks continue their search for a quality starting center, a 27-year-old seven-footer who not too long ago averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds over an entire season remains stashed in the team’s closet like an embarrassing family secret.
Eddy Curry isn’t too far removed from his prime — in 2006-07 he posted that 19 and 7 line and was getting All-Star consideration — but now he’s going into a third straight season where he’s expected to see less time on the court than the Red Panda Acrobat. Between injuries and simply being too out of shape to use, Curry has appeared in 10 games since Mike D’Antoni took over as NY head coach in ’08, for a total of 73 minutes.
This year will be no different. After initial reports over the summer that Curry had vowed to get in shape and begin earning the $11 million salary he’ll make this year, it was later revealed he’d barely been in contact with the Knicks, skipping scheduled workouts and finally reporting to camp looking as plump as ever.
Meanwhile, the Knicks hold auditions for their next center. Ronny Turiaf is the front-runner, having started in the team’s only exhibition game so far, but he only had two rebounds against Armani Jeans Milano (Italy) and didn’t get to show much more on offense than wide-open dunks. Rookie Timofey Mozgov flashed potential to be a player during his run with Team Russia in the FIBA World Championship, but is still a raw talent to be molded. Anthony Randolph has also been considered an option at center, but although he stands 6-foot-11, his body is more that of a small forward or power forward. Randolph is the team’s best shot-blocker, however, and could carve out a spot at center in D’Antoni’s fast-breaking system.
According to the New York Post, D’Antoni is a big fan of Mozgov. Beat writer Marc Berman said the coach “officially has another man crush” on the 7-foot-1 project, similar to how D’Antoni fell in love with David Lee and Danilo Gallinari in his first year with the team.
“I’m trying to hold down, curb my enthusiasm,” D’Antoni said of Mozgov. “I think he can play. I don’t see anything bad.
“I watched him,” D’Antoni added. “He can shot the ball, nice rhythm. He has a learning curve. But he’s smart. He makes foul shots. His confidence is good. He’s definitely not shying away, attacking the basket.”
Curry, who is going to miss another 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury (and wouldn’t be playing right now if he was healthy), isn’t even talked about when New York’s coaches and players get into lineup and personnel. His expiring contract comes up as a possible trade chip whenever the Knicks are mentioned in trade rumors for somebody like Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul, otherwise Curry has no place on the team. This morning’s New York Post article says that if Curry isn’t involved in a trade, the Knicks plan to waive him immediately after the February trade deadline.
It’s very likely Curry has played his final NBA game in a career and life that is destined for a documentary. Even with his sizable expiring deal, no team seems to want any part of him. Then again, if he is waived and later gets in at least some kind of reasonable physical condition, somebody may be willing to take a chance on a seven-footer who is still in his 20′s and has proven he can be productive in the League.
Later this season or next year, would you want your team to take a chance on Curry for the NBA veteran minimum?