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Dennis Smith Jr. will sit out Monday’s preseason opener with a strained back

Injuries already?

2019-20 New York Knicks Media Day Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks will be shorthanded when they take on the Wizards Monday night in their preseason opener.

The big name on this list is obviously Dennis Smith Jr. The third-year point guard is expected to start for New York this year, but will begin the preseason on the shelf with a back issue. This is particularly concerning because Smith missed much of the end of last season with back issues. For what it’s worth, the Knicks didn’t seem overly concerned when Smith sat out Saturday’s open practice.

Let’s hope this really is just a precautionary measure. In the meantime, let’s start speculating, shall we? The absence of Smith and Kadeem Allen should, in theory, lead to more playing time for P&T favorite and FIBA World Cup hero Frank Ntilikina. What worried me, however, is the specter of veteran Elfrid Payton sneaking up on a hobbled Dennis Smith and stealing the starting spot for good. We know he’s a favorite of GM Scott Perry. Could this be a Jarrett Jack/Emmanuel Mudiay situation, where the oldest, least intriguing point guard prospect swipes the majority of the playing time for most of the season? Hopefully I’m just being paranoid.

Get well soon, Dennis.