As a rule, New York Knicks practices in the past few years have been chaotic. In their double-wide gym in a nondescript building in suburban Greenburgh, one rarely sees all the Knicks together on the same floor at once. One day last year, I watched Andy Rautins shooting three-pointers by himself in one corner, Josh Harrellson and Amar’e Stoudemire posting each other up at the opposite end of the gym, Carmelo Anthony goofing off catty-corner from that group, and Toney Douglas lying down along one baseline, stretching and looking half-asleep. It was like watching a gymnastics meet: You could never focus on one thing or tell what was going on.
It is not like this anymore. At a practice last week, the Knicks clicked with military precision. Other than the recently signed Rasheed Wallace—who was still working his way into shape and therefore mostly running “sprints” on his own—the Knicks were as one, on the same court, participating in the same drills and the same scrimmages at the same time. Carmelo was running a pick-and-roll play, spinning off Chris Copeland as Raymond Felton tried to hit him with the pass; Tyson Chandler ran over to try to block his path to the basket; Steve Novak ran under the basket and then back out to sneak open for the corner three. The rest of the team stood around them, watching, commiserating, laughing but definitely not missing anything. No one seemed anywhere close to asleep.
In the middle of it all stood the slightly rotund Mike Woodson, current...