GREENBURGH, N.Y. — He is a man trying to reinvent himself in the middle of an NBA training camp.
He has a new cell phone and he says only about 10 people have the number.
His former college coach, John Calipari, is not one of them. Neither is his agent, because he doesn’t have one.
Chris Douglas-Roberts is trying to make the Knicks roster — while trying to become a new man at the same time.
“I’ve had a really crazy summer, man,” the 6-foot-7 small forward who has averaged 7.5 points in the NBA said Monday at Knicks camp, where he sat out a scrimmage due to a thigh contusion.
“Like 10 people have my phone number right now. I changed it a couple months ago just to really focus, you know, focus and dig in, and get ahold onto my life. I still love Coach Cal to death but I just haven’t been talking to anybody.”
After being chosen out of Memphis by the then-New Jersey Nets in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft out, Douglas-Roberts was limited to just 44 games his rookie season because of a knee injury. He showed potential the next season, scoring in double-digits in 20 of his first 28 games.
But he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010 and since then he has bounced around to multiple NBA teams while also playing in Italy and the D-League.
Now, the 26-year-old father of two is trying to keep a low-profile until he gets established — hopefully on an NBA roster.
“I’ve just been trying to focus,” he said. “I’ve honestly been kind of embarrassed. I really don’t want to resurface until I feel that I’m in the right position.”
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said he knows Douglas-Roberts is a scorer.
“I saw him play a lot actually in college,” Anthony said. “He was in the league. He can score the basketball for sure. He can definitely do that. So I really don’t know where he’s going to fit or what’s the deal with him coming. But we look forward for having him here in training camp. Hopefully he can make a name, make a mark and make the team. We’ll see what happens.”
Since spending the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season in Italy, Douglas-Roberts has been with the Lakers, the Mavericks, the Texas Legends of the D-League, the Mavericks again, and finally the Lakers for summer league. There he was reportedly limited by a sprained ankle.
“Things just weren’t working out,” he said of the last year or so of his life. ”I went to the D-League. I averaged 30 in the D-League. My plan was to be there for a short time. I got called up, and then the Mavs released me like [after] two weeks. And then I didn’t get another call. I went through two agents in a short time. I just had to kind of look in the mirror and I had to do some soul-searching a little bit and kind of find out what’s going on.”
Part of that soul-searching involves laying low on Twitter, where he has sometimes gotten himself into trouble. While with the Bucks, he made some controversial comments about the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the Iraq War.
One example: “It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy. It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 to kill that………..guy. But we #winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).”
Known for much of his career as a pain in the butt who couldn’t keep his mouth shut, Douglas-Roberts now says he has a new appreciation for life.
“Life humbles you,” he said. “It’s been a little unfortunate but I’m happy it did because I’m definitely a better person than I was when I first came out. I’ve had some hurdles, I’ve had some unfortunate things happen along the way these last couple years. But without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have a beautiful family, I know what’s important. I was just young and just saying anything when I was younger. I had a Twitter. I was just talking like it was me and my friends. Now I have a brand new Twitter. I’ve Tweeted like nine times.”
Engaged and the father of two young children — 22 months and 6 months — he’s hoping to catch on with the Knicks but it won’t be easy.
He is competing with Cole Aldrich, Ike Diogu, Josh Powell, Chris Smith and others for perhaps just one open spot.
And he wasn’t able to show anything in Monday’s scrimmage because of a thigh contusion suffered after he took a charge from Tyson Chandler. He said he expected to be back playing on Tuesday and, consistent with his new philosophy, isn’t trying to force anything.
“All I’m in control of is the present and I’m coming out here every day competing my ass off,” he said. “I’m preparing and that’s all I can do. Whatever comes of this, is what comes of it.”
Photo: NY Post