- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As he worked his way back from right foot surgery, Jeremy Tyler had the bright lights of New York City on his mind. The broken foot during training camp stalled his chance to make the Knicks roster, and Tyler worked hard to ensure that he'd eventually be able to crack the squad.
"It was unfortunate that I broke my foot but I kept pushing forward and my ultimate goal was to be playing at the highest level," Tyler said after practice Tuesday. "Now that I'm working and I'm here, got to continue to push forward."
The Knicks signed Tyler on Tuesday, promoting him from their D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks. Tyler replaces guard Chris Smith, the little brother of guard J.R. Smith. Tyler, 6-10, gives the Knicks an extra big that could potentially help spell Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin.
"It feels good to be back. I was down in Erie, trying to work on my game, get back in shape, get my rhythm right after the injury," Tyler said. "I feel good being here. Very cool to everybody on the team. I'm just ready to come and help contribute and play my hardest and help us win."
Tyler seemed in good position to make the Knicks' roster after a strong showing during the summer, but he suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, and underwent surgery in September. Although the Knicks liked his potential, they had to cut him due to roster space, but they eventually got him back in the system when Erie traded for him in early November.
In his last five games with Erie, Tyler has averaged 19.8 points and 11.4 rebounds. He said his foot feels fine and he does not believe he's lost a step since the surgery. He's glad the Knicks brought him back.
"It makes me feel good," Tyler said. "It feels like I’ve been working really hard and they showed a lot of interest and I’m just happy to be here."
Knicks coach Mike Woodson called Tyler "an active kid," and the Knicks will now work on getting him up to speed with their system. Woodson's not sure if Tyler will be able to play in the team's next game against San Antonio on Jan. 2.
"Just some defense, some rebounding, blocked shots because he's an active big guy," Woodson said of what he's expecting from Tylers. "Those are the things I'm looking for and expect when he plays."
Tyler played with Golden State in 2011-12, and with the Hawks and Warriors last season. The 22-year-old took an interesting path to the NBA as he left high school after his junior year to play in Israel and Japan for two seasons before entering the draft. He valued his time in Israel.
"Israel was a pretty unique experience for me. Going into it I was young and I knew I had to handle adversity and continue to push forward. Get better and it was a challenge but I had to fight through it," Tyler said. "I took valuable life lessons from the experience and it's helping me know in my everyday life. I think it was a good decision."
14dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford