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Monday, November 5, 2012
Veterans vital to team's success this season

By Ian Begley

Don't tell Knicks GM Glen Grunwald that his team is too old to compete. He doesn't want to hear it.

"We think we didn't get older, we feel we got more experienced," the GM said recently.

That, of course, is up for debate. But, so far, it's hard to argue with Grunwald.

The Knicks are off to their first 2-0 start since the 1999-2000 season thanks in part to contributions from several veterans.

Thirty-nine year old Jason Kidd's helped infuse an element of ball movement into the Knicks' offense that was missing last season.

Kurt Thomas, 40, is the first big man off of Mike Woodson's bench.

Pablo Prigioni, the oldest rookie in the NBA at 35, has given the Knicks valuable minutes as a reserve point guard.

Heck, even 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace has made a couple cameos in New York's first two games.

"We've got those dogs," Tyson Chandler said of the Knicks' veterans.

Many see those "dogs" as way too old to learn any new tricks, but Woodson believes the Knicks veterans are a key element in their pursuit of a title.

"Young guys are not winning NBA titles," Woodson said last month. "When you go around the league and you look at the good teams, like the Miami Heat, the Celtics, the Bulls, the Spurs, the Lakers, they’ve got a variety of (veteran) players."

Still, a casual glance at this Knicks roster begs the question: just how old is too old?

The preseason addition of Wallace increased the Knicks' average age to 31.6, making them by far the oldest team in the league.

They're a full two years older than the 2nd oldest team -- the Miami Heat.

The Knicks' age, of course, has spawned countless jokes among NBA observers.

Marcus Camby, 38, says he's heard a few.

"We're an old team. We can't escape it; we're not running from it. That's who we are," the veteran forward said.

Grunwald hopes that age is a virtue for his team.

With the length of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chandler's contracts, the Knicks have a small 2-3 year window to win with this core.

So the GM surrounded his stars with a crew with elder statesmen that he hopes can lead them deeper in the playoffs.

"It takes veteran teams to win," Grunwald said.

Camby, for one, sees the Knicks' advanced age as a plus.

"I just think we've all been through those wars, we've been through those grinds," he said. "We know what it takes to win ball games. We know what it takes to pull out close ball games at the end. So, hopefully, we're going to bank on our experience."

Hopefully.

That's the key word for the Knicks and their fans.

In the best-case scenario, the Knicks will be a deep, veteran-laden team that opponents don't want to see in the playoffs.

In the worst-case scenario, age catches up with them and they are less than 100% healthy in May.

Which way will things end up for New York?

You can call that an age-old question.

Question: What do you think about the Knicks age? Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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