While Chris Copeland may not be a Knick after January -- that's when the team can shut down his salary because it's non-guaranteed -- he, like many of the younger players (mostly training camp invites), are already getting their money's worth.
It's only been about a week or so since most of the team arrived at the Knicks' practice facility for workouts, and Copeland has received mentoring from Amare Stoudemire (a similar position player) and learned defensive cues from Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer. Perhaps this week, he'll even get to work with Hakeem Olajuwon, who's stopping by Greenburgh, N.Y., to offer post-up instruction.
Not bad for an NBA rookie, right? It's not often when you're surrounded by All-Stars, Finals contenders and Olympians.
"I've gotten a lot of advice from those guys," Copeland told ESPNNewYork.com. "That's the exciting part about it -- just shaking hands and asking questions. You can really learn a lot. No matter what happens -- some of us know it's not a guaranteed situation -- even the time I spent with them already has been amazing."
The standout veterans have rubbed off on Copeland so much that he's really only ventured into the city once to see Times Square. He's been mainly staying with his girlfriend in White Plains, where many of the rookies and new players are living, and basically only driving back and forth to the practice center. While he knows he has "a lot of work to do," he's also following the collective lead.
"This is a really motivated team -- even the guys that are coming back from injuries," Copeland said. "You look at Iman's work ethic, it's unbelievable. Ronnie's work ethic is unbelievable. We have what it takes to score and make stops. From a defensive standpoint, I think we have every piece of the puzzle. Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler at the five spot -- I think that says it all in itself. We have pieces all around that can do amazing work."
Copeland said everyone right now is mostly focused on their individual running and weightlifting routines with the Knicks' trainers. His goal is to get into the best shape possible, but he's not looking to add weight. The 6-8 forward is happy at 231 pounds.
"I think that's a nice healthy weight," he said. "It gives me enough weight to bang with forwards and still move with the wings if I have to."
Copeland played well during the Las Vegas summer league in July, showing that he could be a stretch four with his ability to shoot the three and play inside. While the coaching staff is not allowed to be present until media day, which is Oct. 1, Stoudemire has already given Copeland some direction.
"He said a big thing for me is to come in and be an energy guy," Copeland said. "Offensively, he told me I had a lot of tools that can definitely help. But at the end of the day, it's about bringing effort and making sure I'm valuable on both sides of the ball."
Copeland also had a chance to speak with Kidd about not only making plays, but also making stops. Copeland knows he's a versatile scorer, but his priority in training camp is to make his mark on the defensive end, where the Knicks are better positioned this season.
"I talked to Jason Kidd a week ago and just picked his brain about different things -- about how to read the floor differently from an offensive standpoint," he said. "I also asked him about defensive schemes and how to push guys certain ways. It's just great to have those guys with so much experience. Kidd's a championship guy. I think it's important I show I can really lock down guys and play great defense. That's one of the things I'm trying to learn from the guys."
That could likely even include The Dream.
"That would be an amazing, amazing experience. I hope so," Copeland said. "That's one of the greatest centers of all-time, one of the greatest players of all-time, and as far as footwork, it doesn't get any better."
THE ARGENTINE HAS ARRIVED: New Knick Pablo Prigioni, who was the starting point guard on the Argentine national team during the Olympics, touched down this week in New York. He provided ESPNNewYork.com with this update:
"Yes I am here! My family and I (wife, Raquel, and children, Alessandra, 6, and Nicolas, 3) are trying to organize here in White Plains. We found the perfect schools for my kids, so we are very happy for that. We rented an apartment, a car and got our social security numbers, etc. So every day, we're getting better situated. Also, I started to work at the Knicks' facility and I feel really good. I'm so excited to start practice with all team together. See everyone soon!"
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