Knicks organize early training camp

Knicks sharpshooter Steve Novak told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday that he and most of the team have organized a "pre-training camp" starting Monday.

The camp will take place at the Knicks' training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., and will continue all the way through Oct. 1, when the Knicks must report for media day.

Novak said the activities will include alternating days of basketball and conditioning skills work.

"We just want to make sure we hit the ground running," Novak said.

Travis King, the longtime training adviser for Amare Stoudemire, said it's unique for players to join as a unit this early in the offseason. But he added that coach Mike Woodson, who had the idea for the "pre-training camp," and the key veterans (Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler) who picked the date, wanted to do it at this time because they've never been together from the beginning.

"Amare was there in 2010, then Melo came around (in 2011) and then last year with the lockout, they didn't really get to have a training camp," King told ESPNNewYork.com. "I think coach Woodson knows that it's important getting those guys to jell together and knows that they can have a championship-caliber team. Coach knows he's going to have to jell the team earlier, so a lot of the guys agreed to come out earlier in the year."

King said the "pre-training camp" is especially important because the Knicks need to establish a connection between their veterans and new point guards -- a key relationship that will impact the team's chemistry-building. Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Smith didn't suit up for the Knicks last season.

"I think that they've got one of the deepest teams in the NBA, one of the most veteran teams, and they definitely got some guys who are winners. But I think the key with them is going to be getting them to jell," King said. "They've got three point guards who didn't play on the team last year, and that's going to be crucial for them to help the guys who have been there, like Amare, Tyson and Melo, and get everybody on the same page. I think you don't want to try to wait all the way to training camp to do that if possible."

Novak, who's spent most of his offseason training at his alma mater, Marquette, said Woodson wanting to organize the "pre-training camp" speaks volumes about his dedication to the team.

"The way he's gone out of his way this summer to make sure he stays in touch with everybody and visits guys, that goes a long way," he said. "I think to build a winning culture, you have to do a little bit more, and that makes you a better team in the NBA. And I feel like knowing that your coach cares about you and he's thinking about you during the summer, and he has plans for you, that goes a long way."

Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com