"Behind Enemy Lines"

Welcome to the first edition of "Behind Enemy Lines" here on the DNB. Every Thursday throughout the regular season, we will be taking a closer look at the opponents of the Toronto Raptors: what they are up to, talk strategy and anything newsworthy. This week, the Raptors have only one regular season game against the New York Knicks in Toronto on Wednesday at 7pm. Before this match-up, the Knicks will meet the Raptors at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec and so will end their pre-season. The end of the pre-season usually signals the end of the off-season/pre-season drama and we all get down to business. I hope. There are a few things to address today about the Knicks: their roster and the possibility of Carmelo Anthony being added to it, plus things to look for when the Raptors meet them a total of 4 times during the regular season. Also, we need to discuss the NBA's ban on those 'vertical leap' shoes and if the Raptors need to worry about them.

Addition and Subtraction with the New York Knicks

So let's first take a look at the New York Knicks' roster, who they gained and who they lost. First, obviously, we mention Amar'e 'the bait that never snagged LeBron' Stoudemire. A power forward with a hefty price tag in my opinion, but let's hope Knicks Head Coach Mike D'Antoni gets full use out of him. Look for Stoudemire to spend time at the centre position like he did in Phoenix and try to take the face of this team. The Knicks have also added veterans Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to their roster pool along with the rookie talents of Landry fields, Andy Rautins, Jerome Jordan, Timofey Mozgov. Knicks management tried to give this club a serious face lift in anticipation of LeBron James coming to New York and the serious possibility of challenging for at least a division title. They shaved nine other players off their roster including Tracy McGrady and Al Harrington. So look for this team to go through some serious adjustments during the first few games of the regular season as they try to make up for a lack of continuity.

Now let's touch on the issue of Carmelo Anthony. Let's make it clear he did not demand a trade but is looking to keep his options open - one of those options is to leave Denver. Carmelo Anthony has declined to sign the contract extension that would keep him in Denver through to 2014. Also, he has put his Denver area mansion on the market this year - a move home owners do only in anticipation of relocating because clearly Anthony is not fishing for how much he can get for his mansion so he can make a quick buck. What does this have to do with the New York Knicks, you ask? Well, according to one source, the Knicks were warming up to the idea of including either forward Danilo Gallinari or forward Anthony Randolph in a deal for Carmelo Anthony. But nothing is confirmed and we literally have to wait until 11:59pm on Sunday night to know if Carmelo will be in the Knicks line-up Monday night versus the Raptors. This is because NBA teams have until the day before the NBA regular season to reduce their active list to a maximum of 12 players. Teams must also have 8 eligible players dressed and able to play in a regular season game or else they will be fined. So this is why it is important for players to be healthy and ready to go. Time is ticking away for Carmelo Anthony and whether or not he's in a Knicks uniform on Monday remains to be seen.

Things to Look for

Let's face it. The New York Knicks have not been a stable club during the past two seasons. Look at how many different players have played for them in two years: 43. With this kind of player shuffling, as a Head Coach you will also be shuffling through many starting line-ups. For Knicks Head Coach Mike D'Antoni? He's had to use 34 different starting line-ups. This does not make the 103 losses in 164 games easier to swallow. However, with Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton on the roster, this should add the stability the Knicks are looking for. The more I think about it, the more I worry about the possibility of Danilo Gallinari included in a possible trade for Carmelo Anthony. Gallinari made 186 three pointers last season, the second most in the league and in Knicks' history. Plus, Carmelo Anthony has expressed his respect for Gallinari. So this young (22 years old) Italian import's style of play will only explode by playing with veterans like Stoudemire and possibly Carmelo Anthony. Fingers crossed.

'Magic' Shoes in the NBA? No Way.

So there's a new line of sneakers which claim to increase your vertical leap. Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 1 shoe has a spring based system which is supposed to help you get up higher for those rebounds and dunks. But don't get too excited - they cost $300 US and no player in the NBA will be wearing them thanks to the league. This is because under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game which creates an undue competitive advantage. According to the Los Angeles-based company, many NBA players, including about 30% of the rookie class apparently, have "expressed interest" in the shoe. The company won't reveal the names because the players have signed with other companies. I wonder if any of those players were Raptors? I guess those players expressing interest in the shoe, better just work on their game instead relying on the magical powers of footwear.

Thanks for joining me today - I will see you next week for more "Behind Enemy Lines" here on the DNB. Before then, join me on Tuesday for your NBA news fix with "Jiggly Bits". Have a great weekend.

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