Mike Woodson said he likely will have to go small ball again and perhaps start Andrea Bargnani at center.
With Tyson Chandler out for at least a month with a small nondisplaced fracture of his right fibula, the Knicks coach is considering a small lineup of Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Bargnani against Charlotte on Friday. Once J.R. Smith returns from suspension on Sunday against the Spurs, Woodson could go with Smith in the starting lineup, perhaps in place of Shumpert.
New York Knicks
"It’s been proven since I have been here that the small lineup works," Woodson said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "Again, there’s going to be nights where we got to against teams like the Pacers and Brooklyn, the big teams that I don’t know if the small lineup will fare very well against.
"With Amar’e [Stoudemire] and Kenyon [Martin] both on restricted minutes, it might bump Andrea now to the 5 and Melo goes back to the 4 spot where he play[ed] so nicely for us in the last season. And then we might go with Pablo and Raymond and Iman until we are able to get J.R. back. That’s really the only route I have right now."
Woodson had been going with his big lineup of Bargnani in the frontcourt with Anthony and Chandler.
"My tinkering with the lineup was to actually see how the big team would fare," he explained. "We have had our moments but we haven’t had enough moments where it has made a major difference to even get a true comparison. That is kind of where I am at now. We lose Tyson last night, he goes down, I think I am forced to go back to small ball. We will see how that plays out."
K-Mart and Amar'e: With Chandler out, Woodson acknowledged he is going to have to play Martin more, but there will still be a minutes limit on the forward.
Martin played 18 minutes after Chandler went down against Charlotte. Woodson said Martin was sore Wednesday and will be monitored. He wants to keep Martin in the 10- to 20-minute range moving forward. And the Knicks will likely and smartly continue to bring Stoudemire along slowly.
"I know what we’re dealing with in terms of the medical problems that they do have," Woodson said of Martin and Stoudemire. "In order to try to prolong it and get the most out of them, you can’t play them 30 minutes a night because there can definitely be a breakdown.
"So we are trying to monitor their minutes and try to make their minutes the most productive minutes in terms of trying to win games. That is something I am trying to figure out right now."