Smith is serving a five-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He will return Sunday against the Spurs. Mike Woodson did not dismiss the possibility of starting Smith in his season debut.
"He could be, absolutely," the coach said before Tuesday's Knicks-Bobcats game.
Shumpert has started the first four games of the season at shooting guard. But Woodson said throughout the preseason that Smith and Shumpert would compete for the starting shooting guard spot.
"When he comes back, we’ll just play it out," the coach said.
Shumpert entered play Tuesday averaging 11.6 points on 44 percent shooting along with four rebounds, an assist and a steal per game. The Knicks have lost two of their first three.
"Bottom line is I’m going to have make a decision and we’re going to have to live with it, and hopefully that decision will work," Woodson said.
WOODY HOPES TO USE BIG LINEUP FOR MOST OF THE SEASON: In a perfect world, Woodson would stick with a traditional starting lineup featuring Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani on the frontline for most of the season.
Woodson said before Tuesday's game that he's still committed to the lineup but would like to evaluate it more before he makes a final decision.
Going big means the Knicks will go away from the two-point guard lineup that they had so much success with last season. The Knicks went 15-1 last year when Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni started in the backcourt.
"If things go according to plan, my ultimate goal was to get to a big lineup. That's where I want to be. But again, it's got to all play out in terms of how we play," Woodson said. "Right now, I'm still trying to figure out rotations and things of that nature."
A "big" lineup means that Anthony would play small forward instead of power forward, where he played most of last season and averaged an NBA-high 28.7 points per game.
"I've just got to be patient and have got to see how this plays out a little bit. And then make a firm decision on which way I am going to go with it," Woodson said.
KEEPING AN EYE ON TYLER: Woodson said the Knicks will keep tabs on Jeremy Tyler. The Knicks' D League team, the Erie BayHawks, traded for Tyler earlier this week. The Knicks signed Tyler to a partially guaranteed contract over the summer, but the 22-year-old suffered a broken bone in his foot and had to miss training camp.
"I think we got to keep an eye on him," Woodson said. "The fact we can rehab him and keep close a tab on him just to see how he develops, if he comes along nicely, who knows he could be wearing a Knick uniform. We just got to wait the course and see what happens."
WOODY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT BARG'S D: Woodson sees plenty of room for Bargnani, a subpar defender, to improve on that end of the floor.
"I truly think he can [improve]," Woodson said. "I don’t buy guys not getting better defensively if they are willing to commit themselves and work, and that’s in any phase of the game. I think he’s mobile enough. He moves around well enough. I think he can get better."
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