Don't look now, but the Knicks' backcourt rotation is about to get a bit bigger. Their presumed starter at the shooting guard position, Arron Afflalo, is (hopefully) finally healthy enough to play his first preseason game. Sasha Vujacic will head to the bench (Machine, noooo!), giving New York three guards in reserve.
This sudden surge of backcourt depth could have an added bonus, if coach Derek Fisher were so inclined: the opportunity to roll out a starting lineup of Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez.
This isn't about moving Melo back to the 4, even though he admitted during Media Day that he saw himself playing more minutes there. Fisher has made it fairly clear that he's going to start Lopez, Melo, Afflalo and Calderon on opening night, health permitting. Based on what we've seen, he intends to use that fifth spot on a power forward. With Kristaps Porzingis out, and Kyle O'Quinn firmly set on the second unit, that starting role fell to Lance Thomas, which...no. I was OK with Thomas as a depth signing, but Fisher isn't really learning much about this team by playing him with the starters.
So why Grant? First of all, because two of team's most important players really want to play with him:
Melo said Grant "plays at his own pace" and seems to free guys up. Says he's excited abt playing w him and that it will happen at some point— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 13, 2015
Melo said there was a point in 3Q where he and Afflalo and talked on bench about how much they're looking forward to sharing court w Grant.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 13, 2015
"At some point" might as well be now. Preseason is a time for experimentation. Starting Lance Thomas isn't an experiment; it's leaving a carton of milk on the radiator for three days. Playing an athletic young point guard who can break down the defense off the dribble alongside two dead-eyed three-point shooters and Melo has the potential to terrorize opposing defenses. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But it's worth a try, and this is the perfect time to try it.