New York Knicks guard Luca Vildoza started his first NBA Training Camp on the wrong foot—a walking boot.
Vildoza, who has yet to recover from an ankle injury he sustained in the NBA Summer League last month, was reduced to a spectator. And his chances to realize his NBA dream are getting slimmer by the day.
“Look, we have one roster spot open. Right now, you base it on the guys that are available and who can help the team the most,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau when asked about Vildoza’s status.
But he was quick to add that they still have time to evaluate their roster.
“We have all (training) camp to figure that out. If you ask me today on what has happened in the fall and where we are now, I have some thoughts. Leon (Rose) has some thoughts. But I think as time goes on, we’ll get more information,” Thibodeau said. “We practice more. We play preseason games. And then look at, ‘Okay, who fits our team the best and what do we need out of that position. And so that’s what we’ll look at before we make the final decision.”
The Knicks signed Vildoza to a partially guaranteed, $13 million, three-year deal last May upon the strong recommendation of their scouts. They have until October 21 or after the season opener to guarantee his next season’s salary or clear his second-year $3.3 million salary.
Vildoza, who recently turned 26, trained with the Knicks’ player development staff for a month before he joined Argentina in its Olympic quest. The Argentine guard had underwhelmed in the exhibition games in Las Vegas and Tokyo. Then the injury happened two games into the NBA Summer League.
Vildoza is likely competing for the 15th spot in the roster against veteran guard Dwayne Bacon. He was brought in apparently on the strong recommendation of his former coach Steve Clifford, a good friend of Thibodeau.
The 26-year old Bacon, who signed an Exhibit 10 or a training camp contract, averaged a career-best 10.9 points last season, playing all 72 games for the Orlando Magic. Bacon is also familiar with Knicks newcomers Kemba Walker (his teammate in Charlotte) and Evan Fournier (his teammate in Orlando).
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