While the terms of a training camp contract aren't much -- only the local hotel room and travel per diem are covered -- the potential is everything. For Oscar Bellfield, John Shurna, Henry Sims and Mychel Thompson, their Knicks' invitation could be their only shot to prove something in the NBA. As Shurna said, "This is an opportunity of a lifetime."
In between their lifting, conditioning and 5-on-5 scrimmaging at the Knicks' practice facility this week without the coaches present (it's a league rule), ESPNNewYork.com caught up with the four of them at different times.
POINT GUARD OSCAR BELLFIELD
Opportunity: "I worked out with the Knicks twice before the draft. It's a blessing just to have this opportunity and try to even get closer to my dream of playing in the NBA. Not many people get this opportunity, so anything at any time is great."
Goals: "My thing is just to go out there and compete as hard as I can and really get after it. I want to make everybody better, from the rookies to the vets. I also want to try to pick up things from the veterans."
Offseason: "I worked out in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas with shooting coach Ivory Manning. I definitely wanted to get into tip-top shape and just work on my individual skills -- really just polish up my game, stay crisp."
Linsanity: "What I really think about that is just the opportunity. And from opportunity, anything is possible. You've just got to work hard and have faith. Jeremy Lin had a great opportunity and took advantage of it."
FORWARD JOHN SHURNA
Opportunity: "My agent, Brad Ames, told me about it, and I thought it was a great opportunity with a great organization in a great city. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I'm happy to have the Knicks jersey on the front."
Offseason: "After summer league with the Hawks, I went back to Chicago and was just working out there and playing pickup games until this opportunity came. My thing was to improve everything. I don't think you can ever be satisfied with one aspect of your game. I have strengths and weaknesses, and I feel like I have to try to improve on both of those each day every time I go into the gym."
Shooting: "[laughs] I don't know about the 3-point contest [at All-Star weekend in Houston next year]. I'm just trying to head into training camp and just compete as hard as I can. I'm trying to be an energy guy. At the end of the day, that's all I can do."
FORWARD-CENTER HENRY SIMS
Opportunity: "I wasn't sure. I was just playing it by ear. A couple of teams contacted me and I was looking at some overseas deals. But the Knicks seemed like a good spot for me to be."
Advice: "The Knicks' veterans are just telling me to stay focused and keep your head straight -- that the NBA lifestyle is a wild lifestyle. My goals are just to stay focused and make a name for myself."
Impact: "Defensively, I definitely think I can help. I move my feet well and I'm good at protecting the basket. Offensively, I think I can just do a lot of things out there, and I can clean up the offensive glass."
FORWARD MYCHEL THOMPSON
Opportunity: "Last year, I worked out with them before the draft. I thought it was one of my better workouts that I had. I also played on their D-League team and have a good relationship with Allan Houston. They obviously saw something in me and hopefully I can prove them right and hopefully make the team. No one expected me to be on Cleveland, and I was able to make that team. Just coming here is a blessing and I'm trying to make the most of it."
Impact: "I know the Knicks already have scorers, so my role with the team wouldn't be to score the ball. I'm out there to play defense and knock down open shots, do all the little things to help the team, rebound. I know I can score, but that wouldn't be my job."
Offseason: "I was in California working out, with my trainers at my old high school in Orange County, and in the Bay Area with my brother, Klay, at the Warriors' practice facility."
Cleveland: "I learned that the game is really fast. I remember my first preseason game and I got my first two shots blocked. You've got to have your feet set, you've got to be ready. The game is a lot faster. One of the games, I was guarding Ray Allen and he did not stop moving. You've got to be in great shape, you've got to take it to a whole other level. In college, there's some great players, but in the NBA, everyone's great. To be in the NBA, you've got to keep working, and I'm trying to do that."
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