For most of the Knicks and their rotation questions, training camp is a first impression but not the last.
There will be changes, injuries and opportunities anew as the season progresses.
But for a handful of players, this might be the most consequential three weeks of their seasons. And that starts with Luca Vildoza.
“We have one roster spot open,” Tom Thibodeau said. “And so, right now, you base it on the guys that are available, and who can help the team the most. And so we have all camp to figure that out.”
Vildoza, the Argentine point guard, was not available Tuesday in the training camp opener because of a right foot injury. He was wearing a walking boot. Not a good start.
Vildoza was signed in May on a $13.6 million multi-year deal, but the 26-year-old’s contract isn’t guaranteed if he’s waived before the season. He also underwhelmed in the Olympics and Summer League, leaving Vildoza’s future in doubt even before training camp. Dwayne Bacon, a 26-year-old shooting guard, is a good bet for the final spot if Vildoza isn’t selected.
Bacon, also on a non-guaranteed contract, played all 72 games with the Magic last season while averaging 10.9 points. Vildoza has only played professionally overseas.
“If you ask me today based on what’s happened in the fall and where we are now, I have some thoughts, (team president Leon Rose) has some thoughts, but I think as time goes on, we’ll get more information,” Thibodeau said. “You practice more and you play your preseason games, and then you look at ‘okay, who fits our team the best? And what do we need out of that position?’ And so that’s what we’ll look at when we make the final decision.”
Still recovering from his broken foot, Mitchell Robinson was limited Tuesday to individual drills.
“We’re going to take it slowly with him,” Thibodeau reiterated.
Monday represented six months since Robinson landed awkwardly in a game against Milwaukee and fractured his foot in a game. The Knicks never provided a recovery timeline, although Robinson had been working out on the MSG court as early as May.
Given his extended absence, Nerlens Noel is projected as the starting center heading into the season. On Tuesday, Noel teased the addition of a 3-pointer to his repertoire. He has attempted just 10 treys in his seven-year career.
“Try to expand my game to that corner 3,” Noel said. “I’m definitely going to tread lightly coming in and seeing what it’s like but I’ve gotten the green light for the most part, so I’ve just got to keep getting the reps up and make sure it falls in game time and I’ll be able to implement that.”