Bargnani may play Saturday vs. Sixers

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks forward Andrea Bargnani participated fully in practice on Monday and may make his season debut on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bargnani, who has been sidelined since the Knicks’ second preseason game with a hamstring injury, is schedule to scrimmage later this week. If all goes well, the power forward may suit up on Saturday.

“Whenever he’s back, his versatility is huge for us on both ends of the floor,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said after Monday’s practice. “I think he can guard multiple positions and offensively he can play multiple positions. He’s another guy on the floor that defenses have to think about how they want to cover him. He makes the game easier for Carmelo [Anthony], J.R. [Smith], Iman [Shumpert]. So we’re excited to get him back soon hopefully, and start to kind of rebuild our team again once we get some guys back out there.”

It will be interesting to see how Bargnani’s return impacts the Knicks’ lineup. Jason Smith, Quincy Acy and Amar'e Stoudemire have taken turns starting at power forward in the first 11 games.

It looks like Bargnani will take the floor before Jose Calderon. The point guard has missed all 11 games due to a calf injury. He practiced at half speed on Monday. Iman Shumpert, who has missed most of the past two games with a hip contusion, will test his injury during shootaround before Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He hopes to play.

Melo on finger-pointing: Last season, the Knicks suffered through losing streaks of nine and seven games en route to a 47-loss season. All of the losing led to finger-pointing and infighting in the locker room, according to Shumpert. Echoing comments Shumpert made earlier this week, Carmelo said on Monday that this season's team has handled losing differently thus far.

“It’s a different environment, atmosphere,” he said. “Last year, we lost some games, had a couple of losing streaks, and the air got sucked out of the room. Everybody wasn’t happy to come in here last year and practice on a day like this.

“This year, we lost seven in a row and everybody still had the same mentality and the same attitude -- to come in here and get better and be positive about the situation and remain confident. And that’s what I’m seeing now with these guys.”

Anthony didn’t want to talk about any “finger-pointing” in the Knicks’ locker room, saying that he tried to stay away from any “negativity” last season.

“I know when you’re losing games and you’re having the season like we had last year, the negativity can easily seep up in the locker room, seep up with the players,” he said. “You have side conversations with different players, guys will start grouping up and pointing fingers and stuff like that, but I didn’t see it because I kind of shied away from all of that. I had to be the one to stay positive and try to stay focused in that situation.”

Melo appreciates Fisher’s vibe: Fisher’s positive spin on the Knicks’ loss to the Utah Jazz last Friday was met with derision in some corners. But Anthony appreciated Fisher choosing to stay positive during the Knicks’ seven-game skid.

“It trickles down to us as players to know that we can rely on somebody through thick and thin whether times are tough or not they’re going to remain the same, they’re going to remain positive throughout the situation and believe in us as players,” Anthony said.

Amar’e eyes movie role: Amar’e Stoudemire is in his last season of the five-year contract he signed with the Knicks in 2010. He wants to play beyond this contract. Once he decides to retire, Stoudemire may pursue opportunities in the movie industry.

Stoudemire has a producer credit and a cameo role in the feature film "Beyond the Lights."

“I really enjoyed the process,” he said recently. “This is something I’m serious about.”

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