Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Harrellson, Shumpert to play Wednesday
By Ian Begley
Josh Harrellson and Iman Shumpert will return to the floor Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both rookies made it through practice Tuesday without issue, according to coach Mike D'Antoni.
"Both seemed to have no ill effects. We'll see in the game and stuff. Basically we're good. They will play tomorrow," D'Antoni said.
Harrellson has been out since Jan. 21, when he fractured his right wrist. Shumpert has been sidelined since last Monday due to left knee tendinitis that became too severe to play with. Both practiced for the first time on Tuesday.
Their return should bolster the Knicks' bench.
When healthy, Harrellson proved that he can knock down the outside shot. The 6-10 forward hit 35 percent of his 3-point attempts in his first 16 games. The Knicks enter play Wednesday with the fourth-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league.
Shumpert has proved to be extremely valuable as a defender, particularly on the perimeter. The first-year guard is fourth in steals per 48 minutes, with 3.18 (based on players who play at least 20 minutes per game).
It'll be interesting to see how D'Antoni shuffles his rotation to make room for Shumpert and Harrellson. The coach hinted that he'd go with a 10-man rotation.
"It's not humanly possible to play 12 guys in a normal rotation. Ten probably. Eleven maybe," he said. "That’s how we have to do it. We’ll see how injuries go, who's playing well. The idea is you got to be ready because [the player] who doesn't play today might play tomorrow.
"It might be 10-man rotation for back-to-backs, but it might not my the same 10. You might have another guy come in. Instead of the 10th guy ... the 11 guy comes in. Something like that."
D'Antoni said he'd like to stick with reserves Baron Davis and J.R. Smith in the backcourt. That means that Shumpert is likely to see time at small forward, though Smith and Shumpert can be interchangeable in those roles.
Bill Walker did not practice Tuesday due to a sore left elbow, and it appears Shumpert will take his minutes in the rotation.
As for Harrellson, he may take minutes away from Jared Jeffries, who has thrived as a team defender and showed an improved touch on the offensive end since Jeremy Lin took over at point guard. Steve Novak's minutes also may be affected by Harrellson's return.
Before he went down with an injury, D'Antoni liked using Harrellson with Amare Stoudemire in the second unit because Harrellson stretched the defense and created space for Stoudemire to operate.