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Knicks say they need time, not an overhaul

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - Some of the players were old, though the New York Knicks say their team is young in its development.

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So they feel they need time, not an overhaul, to get further next season.

``We're just fine. I love our team just the way it is,'' point guard Raymond Felton said Monday. ``When you start making too many changes, you can't build on something. If you're going to be successful, you're going to be good, a team has to be a team, has to be together for a while. This is our first year together.''

Most of the ones who spoke Monday considered it a good one, though Iman Shumpert said not reaching the Eastern Conference finals made it a failure. To have done that, the Knicks would've needed to win Saturday at Indiana, then win a Game 7 that would've been played Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Instead, they were holding exit meetings at their training center, believing they're not far from being at the level of the Pacers or even Miami Heat, who open the East finals on Wednesday.

``We're right there,'' Carmelo Anthony said. ``When you look back, recap this whole season, just some detail-oriented things that we've kind of got to fix, but we're right there. I believe we're right there as a team.''

The Knicks finished 54-28, the second-best record in the East, and reached the second round for the first time since 2000. Their Atlantic Division title was their first since 1994.

``We took a step in the right direction and now we have to continue that process,'' center Tyson Chandler said. ``It's a process, but I think the organization, like I said, took a step in the right direction and now it's important for us players and coaches and everybody involved to continue that and take it to the next level.''

The Knicks hoped to get there this season by surrounding Anthony and the core players with a roster heavy on veterans. Players such as Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby, all 38 or older, were counted on to provide postseason experience but either weren't healthy (Thomas and Wallace), playing poorly (Kidd) or hardly playing at all (Camby) by the time the second round began.

At least a couple of them will be gone, so there will be roster changes. Team executives will have to decide if they want to replace them with similar players, or younger ones who might not be as ready to win next year but might help build a better future.

``As far as the older guys on our team, we really don't know how that's going to play out,'' Anthony said. ``But this was the first year that we had, the first full season that we had together to be able to do and accomplish what we accomplished this year, so I don't really want to say it takes time. Eventually something has to happen, we want to win a championship. That's the goal and we're going to keep striving for that.''

Anthony said he wants J.R. Smith to return, even after the league's top reserve struggled through most of the postseason. Smith can become a free agent.

None of the players said he knew whether Kidd will continue playing after the 40-year-old guard shot just 3 of 25 in the playoffs. He has two years remaining on his contract, as does Camby.

Neither Smith, who has said he wants to return, nor Kidd spoke to reporters Monday. Amare Stoudemire, who played limited minutes in the playoffs after recovering from his second knee surgery this season, also was unavailable. His ability to remain a healthy contributor seems necessary if the Knicks are to compete with the elite teams.

They think they can, even though they've proven it for just one season. Other top teams in the East, such as Miami, Chicago and Boston, have been doing it for many years and will be expected to continue next season.

``We kind of teased the city of New York a little bit because now everybody expects us to play at this level, this high level,'' Anthony said. ``And that's what we hold ourselves accountable and push ourselves this offseason, to come back and be at that level and even better.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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