I wrote a thing from camp last week about the Knicks' shooting guard position, which seems like their main point of rotational uncertainty for the time being. Landry Fields is gone across the border (enjoy Mexico, Landry!), Iman Shumpert is out for months to come, and Ronnie Brewer's absence from training camp could set him a bit behind the conditioning and preparation of the rest of the roster. Knowing all that, having heard J.R. Smith express his preference for starting, and remembering Mike Woodson's affinity for Smith last season, I just assumed Smith would be the starting two to open the year. After today's practice, though, Woodson reportedly made it clear that that won't be the case.
Woodson says he hasn't made a final decision on who will start at SG. He likes @TheRealJRSmith coming off the bench
Woodson says he doesn't know who starting shooting guard will be but it won't be JR Smith.
Come to think of it, it was dumb of me to ever assume that J.R. would start. Even though Woodson seemed to heavily favor J.R. (at least over Fields) last season, Smith only started one game, and remained a sixth man even after Shump's unshumpening. Woody loves J.R., but he loves him as a reserve.
So, J.R. Smith will get plenty of minutes at the two. He might even get the most minutes. I imagine he'll often be on the floor with the first unit at the end of games. Somebody else has gotta start, though, and Woodson's experimentation with different wings on the "blue team" during scrimmages-- James White previously, Mychel Thompson today-- suggests that there's a deep pool of contestants. Still, l'd guess that neither of those two (remember that Thompson is non-guaranteed) is likely to start.
Brewer's missing all of camp and might miss all of preseason, but perhaps his role (defend, mostly get out of the way on offense), his experience, and whatever bits of training camp he's absorbed are enough to put him directly into the lineup on opening day. Alternatively, Woodson could go with a point guard tandem and play Jason Kidd (or Pablo Prigioni, even) alongside Raymond Felton. He's certainly sounded enthusiastic about that kind of unit when asked.
If I had to bet on New York's opening day starting two, I'd put my money on Brewer. Or Kidd. Or Robin Wright. Or an olive. I'm terrible at betting. If I had to set the lineup myself, I think I'd go with Brewer, but that's assuming he's totally healthy and savvy enough to meld into the lineup without much preparation. And even then, I'd still bet on the olive, because, again, I'm terrible at betting.
Thoughts? Predictions? Pro-olive screeds?
Update: via Marc Berman:
"I'll evaluate tomorrow, we’ll walk through some things and then I’ll make that decision,'' Woodson said today. "Right now James White is out, Ronnie Brewer is out, I kinda like JR where he is in terms of coming off the bench. But he could start too, you just never know. At this point I haven’t made that decision yet on who’s going to start at the two.'' J.R. said he's tired of being looked at as a career Sixth Man. But Woodson said, "Everybody can’t start. I’ve got a nice mixture of guys in that starting unit from an offensive standpoint.'