Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Woodson: Two starting five spots are open
By Jared Zwerling
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After Mike Woodson addressed a small group of reporters on Wednesday at the Knicks' practice facility, one thing was clear about next season: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton would start.
But the other two spots are up for grabs.
"We've got to find two other bodies that fit that starting lineup, and who that's going to be, at this point. I don't know," said Woodson, who interacted with a group of children during the Garden of Dreams Foundation's fifth annual Dream Week, offering advice and giving them a behind-the-scenes tour of the practice center.
Iman Shumpert is not guaranteed a starting spot.
Woodson didn't even make any guarantees about starting Iman Shumpert, who was in the first five last season at the 3 position.
"We don't know; we've got to see," the coach said. "You've got to go in and earn a spot; that's how I look at it."
Woodson, however, complemented Shumpert's growth as a player, especially as a shooter. That should make him a candidate to start at the other guard position, especially with the team putting a great emphasis on his playmaking development this offseason. Last season, Woodson fell in favor of a two point guard backcourt, and Shump played some point guard in his rookie season.
"Iman has improved tremendously as a player," Woodson said. "He still has a long way to go being such a young player, but his jump shot has definitely improved from the time he stepped foot in this league. I've got to think that's going to continue to get better."
Woodson's openness in terms of the startling lineup could mean three things: one, he might be thinking about starting Felton and Pablo Prigioni together, which resulted in a 13-game winning streak in March; two, Metta World Peace could start at small forward; or three, Andrea Bargnani could become the main power forward, moving Anthony back to the 3. Woodson doesn't see a strict role for Melo.
"See, you guys look at 4 and 3 and 2," Woodson said. "I don't look at it like that. Melo's a player, man. I can play Melo at 2, and he'll be just fine. Then what would you guys be saying? No really, I don't know where I'm going to play him yet. I mean, I'm going to play him; I do know that."
Woodson said assembling the rotation will be a key focus for him coming training camp.
"As a coach, I'm looking forward to getting to [veteran] camp just to see where we are as a ball club and piecing it all together, because that's what it's going to take in terms of us making our run next season," he said.
Whatever Woodson decides, he said it's important there will be continuity from last season's roster.
"That means a lot," he said. "I think when you're talking about trying to build a championship team, you've got to keep the core guys in place. I mean, when you're changing up constantly, every other year or two years, it's tough. It's kind of nice to have the core group back. We think we've added some pieces that can help that core group, and it's going to be up to me to put it together, which I'm looking forward to."