Novak on Shurna: 'There's a spot for him'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks have two guaranteed roster spots to fill before opening night on Nov. 1 against the Nets.

One of them is likely for Rasheed Wallace. Could the other go to John Shurna?

Shurna's almost mirror image, Steve Novak, is a strong believer that it should.

"He's done a great job at camp," Novak told ESPNNewYork.com after practice on Friday. "He's approached it the right way. He's got a motor on him. He just moves, moves, moves, always trying to get open, always trying to wear the defense down and he shoots the ball so well. I'm obviously biased, but I feel like there's a place for him somewhere. I hope this year with us. He's going to be able to play for a long time."

Shurna has approached training camp the right way because he knows who's the boss, the defensive-minded Mike Woodson. Shurna has been occasionally assigned to Carmelo Anthony during 5-on-5 scrimmages and he hasn't backed down, getting right up in his grill and even forcing a couple of turnovers -- one of which led to a one-man fastbreak dunk.

While Shurna gets a lot of attention for his 3-point shooting (44.0 percent his senior year at Northwestern), he's underrated athletically. He can run the wing, hang with the speedy Raymond Felton and take off far from the basket. In fact, he won a dunk title in high school, which Novak didn't even realize.

"Did he? I love it," he said. "I think he definitely is stronger than he looks, and he gets his hands on rebounds and stuff like that. He's a good player. There's a spot for him, there's no doubt about that."

Novak said he has shot around the 3-point line with Shurna, and has taken the 22-year-old under his wing. Novak recalls what it was like to be in Shurna's shoes years ago.

"I think more than anything, I know that he looks at where I am, being in the league my seventh year," he said. "I remember being where he was that first year in camp, and coming out and trying to find your way. I hope it's good for him to see that I'm still here, that I found a place, because when I was his age, you just pray that there's a spot for you. I just tell him keep working, this is your window, just stay focused. He's done a good job."

Shurna said "it's been great" to learn from Mr. Discount Triple Check, and he's ecstatic about being in New York.

"I thought it was a great opportunity with a great organization in a great city," he told ESPNNewYork.com recently. "This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I'm happy to have the Knicks jersey on the front."

While Shurna went undrafted this summer because he wasn't viewed as a strong defender nor someone who could create much off of the dribble, he's lights out and explosive in the paint. And every team could always use another stretch four.

John Shurna could be this season's Josh Harrellson, a last-man bench guy who could become a fan favorite for his hot shooting and hustle plays -- and some highlight moments for punctuation.

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