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New faces and plenty of optimism; will the Knicks contend?

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

As the Carmelo Anthony drama unfolded, the Knicks opened training camp with many news faces, plausible optimism that they will make their first playoff appearance since 2004, and some of the same old baggage weighing them down, figuratively and literally.

The latter is in the form of center Eddy Curry, who, disgracefully and characteristically, reported to training camp horrifically out of shape at well over 300 pounds. Predictably, he sustained an injury, which has been his profile.

This time it's a hamstring that will sideline the center for an estimated four to six weeks. Unfortunately, Curry continues on an inexplicable self-destructive career path. At only 27, he has become a non-entity with Knicks and his sole value is his expiring $11 million contract.

On a positive note, Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, named co-captains by head coach Mike D'Antoni, are the core of a plethora first year Knicks that have the potential to pull the franchise into the post-season.

"Definitely," said the point guard Felton when asked if he considers the Knicks a strong playoff hopeful during the organization's annual media day event held at their training facility in Greenburgh

"The guys that we have here are very talented and committed to making this franchise a winner. That's the mentality that I am bringing and I know others have the same mindset," maintained Felton, who was signed as a free agent after leading the Charlotte Bobcats to the playoffs last season.

"We can't sell ourselves short, we have to set high goals for ourselves," held the 28-year-old Stoudemire, who inked a five-year, $100 million deal with the Knicks in the off-season after being a post-season regular as a member of the Phoenix Suns.

The X-factor in the Knicks' new equation could be Anthony Randolph. Acquired in the trade that sent David Lee to the Golden State Warriors this past summer, the thin 6-11 Randolph has the tools to be an impact player.

"I'm overanxious and overly excited to get the season started," said Randolph. "I haven't played since last January, so I want to show everyone that I am fully healthy and ready to be an important part of a winning program."

Randolph fractured his left ankle last January 8 and the Knicks are cautiously confident that he will emerge as one of the better small forwards in the east.