There will be Knicks basketball this week. The roster is trimmed to 15. The games they play from now on will count toward their record. This is real now. Well, "real". As real as grown men in pajamas throwing a ball at a metal ring will ever be. The Knicks are getting to the point where practices are more about preparing for opponents and drilling down sets than they are conditioning and familiarity. That said, Mike Woodson is still leaving some stuff up in the air after the preseason rotation was muddled by injuries and battles for roster spots. Woodson stuck whenever possible to a starting unit of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, and Tyson Chandler. We figured he'd stick with that five, but he may be wavering.
Everyone but Shumpert ("general soreness", which is eerie), Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati Hall of Fame induction. Congratulations, Kenyon!), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (sick) was available Monday-- J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire included-- and Woodson played around with units a bit:
#KNICKS scrimmaging w/ starters Felton, Prigioni, Melo, Bargnani & Chandler vs. Udrih, Murry, JR, Metta & Amar'e— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) October 28, 2013
It's just a scrimmage, so I wouldn't read much into it, but Felton, Prigioni, World Peace, Anthony & Chandler are playing together. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 28, 2013
I like either of those groups as is, but I think we can assume a less sore Shump (or perhaps a non-suspended J.R. Smith) would start at the two over Pablo Prigioni in both cases. Woodson's made it sound all camp long like he won't start a point-guard tandem. And while Begley's right that practice scrimmage lineups aren't worth reading into, Woodson's post-practice comments are:
Woodson had seemed committed to starting Bargnani all camp, now says he will decide Wednesday if he starts or not. #Knicks— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) October 28, 2013
Woodson was asked about playing Bargnani or World Peace in the starting 5. "I don't know yet," he said. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 28, 2013
So, that's new. At the very least, Woodson isn't dead-set on playing Bargnani with the starters as he initially seemed. I'm glad to hear it, too. Until proven otherwise, World Peace is the superior defender, rebounder, and shooter (yeah). If the starters represent the core group of guys who receive the most minutes, I'd pick World Peace over Bargnani out of preseason. Of course, you, me, and James White know that isn't always the case with Woodson's starting five, and starting isn't what matters most. What matters is who plays the most minutes, who plays with whom, and who plays when the game is down to a few decisive possessions. For those things, I'm learning toward Metta right now, and at seems like Woodson's at least teetering in that direction.