GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kurt Rambis was on the baseline at the end of practice speaking privately with Jose Calderon. Rambis was going over something he wants Calderon to do in Friday night’s game against the Nets, not talking about the point guard leaving town.
Calderon survived another trade deadline despite reports that the Knicks were offering him in a deal that would have upgraded his position. Thursday’s deadline passed with the 23-32 Knicks standing pat and hoping to make a playoff push in the season’s final 27 games with the same group of players.
“We hand-picked all of these guys,” Rambis said. “These are players that we liked, we wanted. We know this isn’t a finished product. We’ve got to continue to improve. But we hand-picked all these guys, so we like them.
“Now we’re out here trying to develop them and work with them so that they understand how to play the game the way we want them to play.”
Two hours before the 3 p.m. deadline, Rambis, the Knicks’ interim coach, said he wasn’t expecting anything to happen. He said he popped his head into team president Phil Jackson’s office in the morning to see if anything was brewing with them or the “teams in front of us.”
The four teams directly ahead of the 12th-place Knicks — Orlando, Washington, Detroit and Charlotte — all made moves and seemingly improved. Making up the five games the Knicks are out of a playoff spot just got tougher.
“Changes sometimes help and changes sometimes hurt,” Rambis said. “We have talented players. We need those guys playing really hard, really focused and together very well.”
The Knicks still have an open roster spot. Rambis said he, Jackson and general manager Steve Mills have talked about some players they might be interested in if they’re waived or bought out.
Jackson said last week that the Knicks “don’t have a tremendous amount of favorable trade items.”
The Knicks reportedly talked to Minnesota about swingman Kevin Martin and to Houston about point guard Patrick Beverley. They didn’t have enough to pry point guard Brandon Jennings from Detroit, which sent him to Orlando for Tobias Harris.
The Knicks don’t have a first-round draft pick to trade until the 2018 pick and don’t have a pick this season. This year’s first-round pick was sent to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani in 2013. That makes earning a playoff spot crucial for the Knicks, who have lost 10 of their last 11 games. It may be a long shot, but the Knicks believe they can make a run.
“I’m confident because we saw we can do it,” Calderon said. “We got good stretches of really good basketball. We’ve got to get back to that. Until somebody says different, we’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs and we’ve got to keep pushing.”
Calderon, who has come under fire because of his inability to guard quicker point guards, is aware that Knicks fans wanted an upgrade at his position.
“We compare position by position, player by player, I already say I lost every battle in that situation,” Calderon said. “I’m not going to score more points than a lot of point guards in this league. I do a lot of things. I’m a different kind of player. So it happens. We have to deal with it. It’s no fun when you try to win for the Knicks and people want you out of the Knicks.”