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Jeffries 'Balancing' Out the Knicks

CHARLESTON -- Spoke briefly with Jared Jeffries today at New York Knicks' training camp at the College of Charleston, where the former Wizard is being looked upon to provide "balance" - the word used by President of Basketball Operations/Coach Isiah Thomas - to a team that won just 23 games last season. The most obvious difference with Jeffries was that he wears the No. 20 once worn by Allan Houston (former Maryland star Steve Francis wears, No. 1, Jeffries's former number in college and in Washington), but when I shook his hand, I spotted the ink on the inside of his wrists.

Over the summer, Jeffries had two bible verses stitched onto his arm while in San Diego. On his right wrist, he has "PHIL 4:13," as in Philippians 4:13, which reads, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." His left wrist reads, "Romans 12:10." The verse says, "In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another."

Jeffries said he got the tattoo with his little brother, Justin. Jeffries once said Justin was one of the main reasons Jeffries elected to stay home in Bloomington, Ind., and play collegiately at Indiana over Duke because he "wanted to see him grow up." The Indiana connection with Thomas is one of the main reasons he signed a five-year, $30-million offer sheet with the Knicks over the summer. Although he was at Indiana for just two weeks before Bobby Knight was fired, Jeffries said he and Thomas are products of the same system and share similar basketball philosophies. But one reporter couldn't help but ask an obvious question. After spending his first four seasons in Washington and advancing to the playoffs two years in a row, why would he come to the Knicks. "What were you thinking?" the inquisitor asked bluntly.

"It's one of those situations where it's not like any team in the East is that far off," Jeffries said. "Coach Thomas told me I had a chance to help the team be very successful and that's what you always want. I feel I helped Washington. I can come here and help here. We can be a very good team."

During the first three days of camp, Jeffries has received a lot of time with the Knicks first unit with Francis, Stephon Marbury in the backcourt, Channing Frye at power forward and Eddy Curry at center. Of the five players on the floor, Jeffries is the one who isn't look upon to score, which doesn't bother him. After all, he spent the past two seasons playing with the NBA's highest scoring trio - whether it was Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes or Arenas, Jamison and Caron Butler - and he never has been a scorer.

"That's always been my role, even in high school," said Jeffries, who has averaged 6.1 points in the NBA. "In college, I averaged about 13, 14 points [Jeffries actually averaged 15 points his sophomore year at Indiana]. I'd have 30-point games. I'd have 10-point games. It's a matter of whatever it takes to win."

Thomas said he hasn't made any decisions regarding his rotation or his starting lineup, but he is excited about having the versatile 6-foot-11 forward on board. "He can play out on the perimeter. He can go outside. He can defend all five positions," Thomas said. "He can be a great help."

Jeffries was asked if felt weird spending the first week in October in Charleston instead of Richmond, Va., with the Wizards. "I thought that it would be, but it's not all that weird. Honestly, I love it," Jeffries said. "It's a new opportunity. It's new guys. I enjoy it."

By Michael Lee  |  October 5, 2006; 2:58 PM ET
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I thought a key reason Jeffries went to the Knicks is that he wanted to play a bigger role, especially on offense. Sounds like he is in the same role in NY as was in DC.

Posted by: Abe | October 5, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The Knicks will be awful...consider them the Raiders of the NBA.

Posted by: NY | October 6, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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