The Knicks Kick Off the Preseason on Thursday Night - NBC New York

The Knicks Kick Off the Preseason on Thursday Night

What you need to know as the Knicks get ready for the season



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    The Yankees are trying to advance in the playoffs and the NFL is starting to hit its stride, which means only one thing. 

    It's time for Knicks basketball! Wait, what? 

    That's right, boys and girls, the Knicks are back in action on Thursday night as they face the Wizards in their first preseason game of the year. For those of you who might have stopped paying attention when Jeremy Lin left town, we'll get you caught up in case you prefer the meaningless tranquility of preseason hoops to the frenzied atmosphere in the Bronx. 

    The Knicks are old this season - We're talking historically old here. By adding the likes of Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Pablo Prigioni and Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks have landed themselves the roster with the highest average age of any in NBA history. Congratulations? 

    The Wallace signing is the only one that can't even begin to be explained by conventional means as he hasn't played for a couple of seasons and wasn't particularly good the last time he went to the NBA. The rest of the silver foxes will be in bench roles with Camby's defense and rebounding looking like a particularly good fit, but it does raise a great risk that the Knicks will be consistently shorthanded once again this season. 

    The Knicks are sharing the ball this season - The Knicks held a televised practice on MSG a few days ago and the sight would have relieved the soreness from any eyes. They were moving the ball around the offensive end to players who were in constant motion and Carmelo Anthony was in the center of all the action as a facilitator. 

    Now, a more cyncial observer might note that this practice session had more than a little in common with something you might see in the Soviet Union and that Anthony went back to gunning the second that the red light on top of the camera went off. Perhaps, but there's also a chance that he realizes that getting anything valuable out of Amar'e Stoudemire will rely on being more of a team player. 

    J.R. Smith is unhappy this season - With Iman Shumpert recovering from knee surgery and Ronnie Brewer not quite ready after his own knee operation, the Knicks are short on shooting guards as the season starts to percolate. They aren't short enough to take Smith out of his bench role, however, and that's left the man who never met a shot he wouldn't take feeling a bit peeved at the coaches. 

    So much for that whole team player business, huh? Smith shouldn't complain after the way Woodson allowed him to run roughshod on the offense last season and should realize that coming off the bench allows him to play a scoring role on the second unit while Anthony and Stoudemire do the heavy lifting for the starters. 

    That's a minor sideshow to the main attraction this season which was also the main attraction last season. Can the Knicks' frontline learn to coexist in a way that leads to everyone's game being raised instead of the collective deflation that happened every time they played together last year? 

    If the answer to that is no, nothing else is going to matter this season. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.