Injury Report: Kadeem Allen (strained right foot), Reggie Bullock (cervical disc herniation), Damyean Dotson (right shoulder surgery), Amir Hinton (personal reasons) and Dennis Smith Jr (strained lower back) are out for tomorrow’s game at Washington.— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) October 6, 2019
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.
Dennis Smith Jr’s strain is muscle-related. Not related to anything he had in the past.— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) October 5, 2019
“Light strain. Just wanted to rest him. Didn’t want to risk it getting worse.” https://t.co/jhA6DmP5te— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) October 5, 2019
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.