New York Knicks: Pablo Prigioni

Opening tip: Should Felton play?

February, 26, 2014
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Raymond Felton was already in the midst of one of his worst seasons.

He was averaging a career-low 10.4 points to go with 29.6 percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc. Now the Knicks’ starting point guard is facing charges of one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.

Each is considered a felony in New York state. Felton’s case will take place on June 2. He was handed a six-month order of protection from his estranged wife, bail set at $25,000, and there are no legal restrictions from traveling.

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A bad season just got incredibly worse for Felton. However, indications are that Felton will still be allowed to play.

ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley reports that Felton is expected to practice on Wednesday and play against Miami on Thursday, barring unforeseen punishment from the NBA or Knicks, according to a league source.

If you were the Knicks, would you play Felton moving forward?

In my opinion, it’s hard for the NBA or the Knicks to take any action with Felton before he has his day in court. So unless something happens legally before that June 2 court date, Felton could conceivably play out the remainder of the season.

How much of a difference does it make for the Knicks if Felton plays? Well, Felton’s game has nowhere to go but up since he wasn’t playing well to this point. Perhaps he will be even more focused with the court serving as a refuge from his problems.

The Knicks (21-36) are a long shot now to make the playoffs, as they were six games out of the eighth spot entering last night’s games. With 15 of their remaining 25 games on the road, Felton is going to have to play at a high level for the Knicks to make a playoff run.

If the Knicks or the NBA opt to suspend Felton, Mike Woodson would have to move forward with Pablo Prigioni starting at point guard. The coach could let guard J.R. Smith handle the ball for spells, and he could also use Toure' Murry at times. The Knicks also have agreed in principle to a contract with free agent Shannon Brown, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. So when Brown comes on board, he could perhaps handle the ball for small stints, although he is more of a scoring guard.

Bottom line is the Knicks need Felton if they are going to have any hope of making the playoffs. I know, the playoffs are slim at best. But there’s really no other alternative for the Knicks than to play hard and make one last run since they don’t have a first-round pick. Some of you want to see the Knicks develop younger players like Murry, and maybe see what a guy like Brown can do. Considering Woodson is coaching for his job -- his fate for next season could already be decided -- the coach will likely continue to lean on his veterans and not try to develop younger players.

Perhaps Felton will pick up his game, although he certainly has greater things to worry about now than how he’s performing on the court.

Up now: Felton appears in court and is formally charged.

Ian O’Connor says you guys, the fans, don’t deserve this. And the Knicks don’t deserve you guys.

Some of our basketball experts answer five questions about the Knicks, including if they’ve finally hit rock bottom.

If anybody knows what Felton is facing, it’s Plaxico Burress.

Looking to fill two roster spots, the Knicks agree to a deal with forward Earl Clark, according to Ian Begley. And Shannon Brown is on his way too, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.

What’s next: The Knicks practice today. We get to hear Woodson’s reaction to the Felton situation.

Question of the Day: If it were up to you, would you continue to let Felton continue to play?

What's next for Felton, Knicks?

February, 25, 2014
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The ever topsy-turvy Knicks season took another unexpected turn on Tuesday with Raymond Felton’s gun charges.

After turning himself into police early Tuesday morning, Felton appeared in court and was charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.

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Each is considered a felony in New York state. Felton’s case was adjourned until June 2. He was handed a six-month order of protection from his estranged wife, bail set at $25,000, and there are no legal restrictions from traveling.

While nothing else is definitive, let’s take a look at what this all means from a basketball perspective:

What's next?: The NBA is monitoring the Felton situation. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has his first controversy to deal with, and we will see how he handles it.

My guess is the NBA likely won't take any action regarding the Knicks point guard, unless he is found guilty on any of the counts he’s facing. But we will have to see.

If the NBA doesn’t suspend Felton, the Knicks could opt to take action, but that doesn’t seem likely since Felton’s case against those counts hasn’t taken place yet.

ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley reports that Felton is expected to practice on Wednesday and play against Miami on Thursday, barring unforeseen punishment from the NBA or Knicks, according to a league source.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson is expected to meet with reporters on Wednesday, and perhaps some players also will talk.

What it means for Felton: Felton was already in the midst of a bad season, averaging a career-low 10.4 points to go with 29.6 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Felton has had a tumultuous time off the court, clearly. And now Felton has to worry about what his future holds.

In the meantime, if the NBA and the Knicks opt to let him play against the Heat and moving forward, Felton has nowhere to go but up as far as his play is concerned. Perhaps he will find refuge from his problems on the court. With his court date taking place in June, Felton could conceivably play the entire season out.

[+] EnlargeRay Felton
AP Photo/John MinchilloRaymond Felton posted $25,000 bail and was released from jail with two felony firearms charges.
But even if he is allowed to play, Felton’s future after this season is murky at best. Felton is slated to earn $3.6 million this season and $3.7 million next season. He has a player option for $3.9 million in 2015-16.

What it means for the Knicks: Certainly the Felton situation is an embarrassment for the franchise, and owner James Dolan can’t be pleased.

If Felton is later found guilty, the Knicks could look into ways of getting out of Felton’s contract. They already were reportedly trying to trade him before the trading deadline.

Pablo Prigioni may become even more important to the Knicks if Felton struggles even more on the court and with the uncertainty surrounding Felton's future.

In a season full of reality-television drama, Felton’s gun charges marks the low point of the season. The Knicks (21-36) were six games out of the eighth spot entering Monday's game, and their starting point guard now has legal problems.

With 15 of their remaining 25 games on the road, making the playoffs might be harder for the Knicks than clearing cap space and luring another star to play for them this summer.

Perhaps the Knicks will rally around Felton and somehow play better. Who knows? It’s been a wacky season already. Either way, free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony has to be wondering what else could possibly go wrong in this disastrous season.

Woody: Can't just blame the point guards

February, 4, 2014
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Mike Woodson won’t point the finger at point-guard play for the Knicks’ struggles.

Raymond Felton shot 1-for-7, had three points and seven assists during Monday’s terrible 101-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Pablo Prigioni also only had three points.

Both Knicks point guards did not commit any turnovers. But defensively, Felton gave up a backdoor layup to Brandon Knight and Knight’s game-winning 3-pointer came over Felton, all in the final 27 seconds. Knight finished with 25 points.

“I’m not pointing the fingers at anybody,” Woodson said. “If I’m going to point it at anybody, I’ll always point it at myself first as the coach, because I feel like I can take any team, any five guys and win with. That’s just how I feel as a coach.”

Woodson said there’s more to blame than just the Knicks’ point guards, who have come under fire from critics and fans.

“I look at myself, and then I address things internally with our ball club where I’m trying to get guys to make the commitment,” Woodson said. “You can’t just blame it on the point guards. It’s been everybody’s play, it’s been the coaching, we’re all in this together and we’ve got to figure it out together."

When asked about how Felton defended Knight’s game-winning 3-pointer, Woodson said it should have never come down to that to begin with.

“I mean I look at all the things that happened prior to that shot even coming down the pike,” Woodson said. “I mean he was up and as he started to dribble in he dribbled into his sweet spot, which was right at the 3-point line and he let it go. I mean he hit a hell of a shot. Raymond was there.

“But when I reviewed the tape, it should never have gotten to that based on how we played,” Woodson added. “Those are the things that creep in, the little things that hurt you. We missed a lot of free throws, you could point the finger at [those] as well. Again, right now we’ve got to play almost perfect basketball to win, and that’s OK, but we’ve got to get that accomplished.”

Opening tip: Moving on without Bargs

January, 24, 2014
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The hits just keep coming for the New York Knicks.

Already decimated by frontcourt injuries, the Knicks must move forward without Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani tore a ligament in his left elbow on Wednesday night and is out indefinitely.

Mike Woodson already tended to go with a more defensive-oriented lineup over using Bargnani, especially in crunch time. And using Carmelo Anthony at power forward typically yields better matchups with Tyson Chandler at center.

[+] EnlargeAndrea Bargnani, LeBron James
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IICan the 'Bockers get by without Andrea Bargnani?
Say what you want to say about Bargnani's lack of defense, he provided the Knicks with 13.3 points per game, second on the team behind Carmelo. Bargnani gave the Knicks a scoring threat more consistent this season than J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. Bargnani shot 44.2 percent from the field and averaged 12.0 shots a game, third behind Anthony's 21 shots a game and Smith's 12.1.

Replacing height when Woodson needs it will be an issue. At the moment, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace are out with sprained left ankles. Woody will have to use Jeremy Tyler and perhaps Cole Aldrich for some minutes.

The injury also creates an opportunity for Tim Hardaway Jr. Felton and Smith already take double-digit shot attempts each game. Shumpert will likely have to take more than the 6.6 shots he has hoisted up per game thus far.

Woodson could start Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the backcourt to have two point guards on the floor again. If he wants to go with a big lineup, he will have to wait for one of his forwards to return from injury or start Tyler. He will likely go with his small lineup moving forward.

Either way, the reeling Knicks now have to find a way to stop a five-game losing streak without their second-leading scorer. The Bargnani injury probably helps Woodson's job status more than anything. But again, the Knicks would have been hurting to find a coaching replacement if they wanted to make a move. As long as he has the support of his locker room, Woody remains the best man for the job, especially with the limited replacement options, if any.

Up now: Bargnani is out indefinitely.

Woodson says Melo is "on board" and he discusses his relationship with Chandler moving forward.

Here's Beg's midseason report card.

What's next: The Knicks try to stop the bleeding against Charlotte at home at 7:30. An already ugly situation could get even more bleak with yet another home loss.

Question of the day: Which Knick has to step up the most with Bargnani out and which startling lineup would you go with?

Felton, Prigioni won't play in Texas

December, 31, 2013
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks guards Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni will not play during the team's upcoming three-game road trip in Texas, according to coach Mike Woodson.

The Knicks play in San Antonio on Thursday, in Houston on Friday and in Dallas on Sunday, in what is known as the "Texas Triangle" gauntlet.

[+] EnlargeRaymond Felton
Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Knicks will be without Raymond Felton for at least three more games.
"They haven't practiced, so we got three games in four days I think it is," Woodson said. "It's going to be impossible for them to play."

Felton worked on the side at practice Tuesday as he nurses a strained right groin, while Prigioni did not work due to the hairline fracture of his right big toe. Felton last played on Dec. 10, while Prigioni has been out since Dec. 16. Prigioni was scheduled to miss at least two weeks.

"Raymond and Pablo are still a little bit away," Woodson said. "They're not on the floor yet in terms of pounding and running, so we have to basically wait."

With those two out, the Knicks have been forced to extend players who normally wouldn't be receiving quality minutes. Third-string point guard Beno Udrih has been starting, and the team has been forced to use Toure' Murry for extended minutes. The Knicks cut Chris Smith on Tuesday and replaced him with big man Jeremy Tyler.

"Yeah, we are short-handed from a point guard standpoint, but we got to pray that Raymond and Pablo will be back in a uniform soon because we need those two guys," Woodson said.

Felton has been disappointing this season, averaging just 10.5 points and 5.1 assists per game, and he has missed 13 of the team's first 30 games. Prigioni is averaging 3.9 points and 3.2 assists per game.

Anthony practices: Forward Carmelo Anthony (ankle) did some work on the floor with some contact Tuesday, according to Woodson. It's still unknown whether Anthony will be able to play against San Antonio.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow after the workout today," Woodson said.

Anthony has missed the past three games with a sprained left ankle, but is hoping to return Thursday against the Spurs. He said Monday he had "swelling" and "tenderness" in his ankle. The Knicks are 0-3 without him, and have been outscored by 67 points since he left in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 23.

"It was definitely disappointing, sitting back watching it. I definitely hate sitting out watching the games," Anthony said Monday. "I’m trying to do what I have to do to get back and do what’s best for everybody."

Opening tip: All I want for Christmas is ...

December, 24, 2013
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Anthony-Durant Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsWill Santa deny us a Christmas duel between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant?
It's Christmas!

Is it too much to ask Santa for a miracle and turn the Knicks back into 50-win contenders again? OK, scratch that. Let's ask for something a little more realistic (or so we hope!). How about helping Carmelo Anthony's sprained left ankle heal overnight so that the reigning scoring champ can play against Kevin Durant?

After all the bad basketball and injuries we have had to watch thus far this season with both the Knicks and Nets, all I want for Christmas is good New York Christmas basketball. Can't you hear Mariah sing it?

A healthy Melo versus KD Christmas showdown isn't too much to ask Santa for, is it? After everything we have seen with the Knicks thus far this season, something tells me that might be too much to ask for.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Durant has scored at least 30 points in each of the past three Christmas games he has played in (44 versus Denver in 2010, 30 versus Orlando in 2011, 33 at Miami in 2012). Meanwhile, Anthony is pretty good on Christmas, too, scoring 32 for Denver versus Portland in 2009, 37 against Boston in 2011 and 34 versus the Lakers in 2012.

When Melo sprained his ankle Monday night in Orlando, the Knicks had to be wondering what else might come their way. They've lost Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin to injuries this season. But losing Melo for any period of time is the worst possible blow to the Knicks.

Hopefully, the Knicks won't get a glimpse of what life will be like without Melo. Because as ugly as this season has been at times for the Knicks, at least they have had Carmelo around. Without Anthony, the Knicks will have to rely heavily on J.R. Smith.

J.R. versus Durant? Apologies to Smith but that's not what we, the NBA and dare I say Mariah, had in mind for Christmas Day when the schedule came out.

Up now: Carmelo is a game-time decision.

Here's W2W4 for the game. Also Kenyon is questionable and Raymond is out.

Do you think the Knicks should go big or small with their lineup?

What's next: Merry Christmas! It's Knicks versus Thunder at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Garden.

Question of the day: What do you want for Christmas? Answer must be Knick-related.

How would you replace Prigioni?

December, 17, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Pablo Prigioni's toe injury puts the Knicks in an extremely tough spot. Prigoini is expected to miss at least two weeks with a hairline fracture of his big right toe.

With Raymond Felton (hamstring) already hurt, that leaves the Knicks with few options at point guard.

[+] EnlargePablo Prigioni
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesPablo Prigioni will miss at least two weeks with a hairline fracture of his big right toe.
Here is a look at what New York may do to replace Prigioni:

Players already on the roster: The Knicks can turn to Beno Udrih to start at point guard. But the veteran may not be conditioned well enough to play 35-40 minutes a night.

Woodson mentioned that he'd give rookie Toure' Murry a look as well. Murry had a solid showing in training camp and is viewed as a strong athlete who has the lateral quickness and length to guard the position well.

Woodson also said that Iman Shumpert will play some point guard.

Lastly, there is a possibility that the Knicks will call up Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, from New York's D League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.

Trade market: Prior to Monday's game, two league sources told ESPN New York that talks between the Raptors and Knicks regarding Kyle Lowry had quieted down.

Could Prigioni's injury change that?

One league source with knowledge of the talks said prior to Monday's game that the Knicks weren't interested in dealing Tim Hardaway Jr. or a first-round pick to Toronto for Lowry, who is a free agent after this season.

But Prigioni's injury may force them to rethink their stance.

Free agency: There are players such as Sebastian Telfair, Delonte West and Mike James who are available. But the Knicks would need to cut a player to make room for a free-agent signee.

Question: How would you like to see the Knicks fill the void left by Prigioni?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Five reasons why the Knicks are a mess

November, 17, 2013
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The Knicks lost their fifth straight home game on Saturday night.

So far, Debbie Gibson has had a better performance at Madison Square Garden than the home team. Let's sift through the mess and look at five things holding the Knicks back:

[+] EnlargeTyson Chandler
Elsa/Getty ImagesTyson Chandler's injury has devastated the Knicks defense.
No Tyson, no defense: Mike Woodson says his team isn't being competitive or showing any effort on defense. He has to find a way to get his players to play defense because the Knicks can't rely on their offense or Carmelo Anthony to bail them out.

The Knicks miss Tyson Chandler badly. They could rely on him to be that last line of defense. He obviously can be a terrific shot blocker. But they miss him most on the boards. Now they rely on Melo to grab the rebounds (as if Melo didn't have enough on his plate). And they miss Chandler's hustle and energy. Woodson needs to find a way to motivate his defense, which is giving up an average of 104.5 points per game in the last seven games.

Woody's task: Some fans are chanting for Woody's job. Look, it doesn't all fall on Woodson's shoulders since he does have a flawed roster that is thin and loaded with streaky scorers that do many of the same things while also having to survive without Chandler. But Woodson has to find a way to get his team better shots.

Too many times, the offense stalls and slows down as four players watch one guy jack up a quick or contested shot on one side of the court without a single pass. The ball needs to move more and Woodson has said as much. Part of that has to do with who he has on the floor. Woodson admits he's trying to find the right combination of who will play hard, defend and move the ball for him. Nine games into the season, he has not found that consistent lineup with several new faces, injuries and a suspension to deal with. Woodson says he likely will continue to tinker with his lineup until he finds the right combination. Playing Pablo Prigioni a bit more could help the ball movement.

Shooting blanks: J.R. Smith has more problems than just what Brandon Jennings tweets. His shot is just not falling right now. Smith shot 3-for-18 and scored just seven points in 36 minutes against the Hawks and then said, "I was playing like s---."

He has no rhythm right now and the Knicks desperately need another scoring option to help Melo. Since his return from a five-game suspension, Smith is shooting a dismal 22.6 percent from the field and just 26.9 percent from behind the 3-point arc. In three starts, Smith is shooting 11-for-44 overall and 6-for-21 from 3-point range. Woodson could opt to bring Smith off the bench again and put Prigioni back in the starting lineup. But Woodson has been concerned with his team's slow starts. No matter, Smith has to get his shot going again.

Kenyon and Amar'e: The Knicks are trying to preserve their veteran big men and have been playing Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire on a minutes restriction. There just seems to be no comfort level at all when Stoudemire is in the game as he tries to do what he can in limited minutes. Things just seem disjointed when Amar'e is in the game and the Knicks can't afford to be patient right now. Martin has tried setting the tone with defense and hard fouls. So far he is averaging 12.1 minutes. Amar'e is averaging 10.5 minutes but just 3.2 points and 1.8 rebounds. Amar'e would like to play more minutes which might get him to feel more comfortable. Whatever the plan is right now with Stoudemire, it's not working.

Everybody needs Raymond: Raymond Felton has had some hamstring issues early this season and the Knicks need their point guard healthy and playing better. Felton is averaging 11.1 points and 5.2 assists in 35 minutes a game. But he's shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and only 20.6 percent from behind the 3-point line. Felton has to find a way to get the ball moving and the offense flowing better. Offensively, Felton's two best games have come in Knicks' wins. He scored 18 in a win over Milwaukee and 15 in a victory over Charlotte so they can use an aggressive but efficient Felton.

And the Knicks need better defensive play from Felton and their point guards. Atlanta's Jeff Teague and Shelvin Mack combined for 28 points and 13 assists on Saturday. Teague had 25 points and eight assists against the Knicks last Wednesday. Jeremy Lin had 21 points against the Knicks last Thursday.

How would you guys fix the Knicks issues so far? Let us know what you think below.

Melo: 'You can't blame Woody'

November, 11, 2013
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Carmelo AnthonyJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony defended his embattled head coach Monday.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- There's plenty of blame to go around when a team loses by 31 at home.

But Carmelo Anthony says don't point the finger at New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson even though some fans chanted for the coach's job during a 120-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

“It’s New York,” Anthony said of the upset fans. “It happens. Woody’s not out there playing. We’re out there playing. You can’t blame Woody. We’re not, as a team, giving him the effort that he’s looking for and we’ve got to change that.”

Woodson's job status has been a topic of discussion and the head coach said during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 last week that he wasn't going to look over his shoulders.

Replacing Tyson: For at least the next month, the Knicks have to stay afloat without Tyson Chandler, who is sidelined with a small non-displaced fracture of his right fibula.

That's a lot of defense and shot-blocking to replace.

"I guess I’ve gotta do more shot blocking," Anthony cracked. "I guess I gotta be the center."

As much as Anthony does for the team, he can't do it all. But after seeing how the Spurs scored so easily, he does know that the Knicks' defense needs to improve somehow without Chandler. He knows teams will be attacking the Knicks nightly.

"That’s any game plan when you don’t see a shot blocker in the paint," Anthony said. "I know my eyes get big when I don’t see a shot blocker in the paint, so I guess that was the case. That was their game plan to attack us when we didn’t have any shot blockers in there, anybody to change the dynamic of the game."

Woodson didn't blame Sunday's defensive debacle on Chandler's absence. He wants to see his players display more effort.

"Wasn’t nothing pretty about our game," Woodson said. "You give up 17 layups, that doesn’t have anything to do with somebody being at the rim. That is just individual defense, on the ball, where we had a lot of breakdowns as of late. … Give up 17 layups and you are not going to beat anybody doing that. That is something we got to learn from and we got to get better in that area in terms of individual defense on the ball."

Big or small: Woodson was asked if he will make any lineup changes following the blowout loss to the Spurs.

"I don't know," Woodson said.

Woodson has started Andrea Bargnani at center for the past two games to go with Anthony at power forward and Iman Shumpert at small forward. Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni started in the backcourt.

NYK may go small with Bargnani at center

November, 6, 2013
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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.

"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."

Reports: Prigioni to start over Shump

October, 11, 2013
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According to published reports, Mike Woodson will start Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the backcourt Friday night against Toronto.

That means Iman Shumpert, who was 7-for-7 from the field in Wednesday’s win over Boston, will come off the bench once again.

Starting lineups for preseason games aren’t overly significant, but it’s a bit strange that Woodson would opt to start Prigioni over Shumpert. Woodson, after all, has said Shumpert and J.R. Smith will compete for the Knicks’ starting shooting guard position.

Woodson said Wednesday that Shumpert would come off the bench because he missed time in training camp with a sore right shoulder. It appears that that’s still the case.

The coach has said repeatedly that he would like to start a traditional shooting guard in the backcourt -- Shumpert or Smith -- rather than playing with the two point guard lineup that spurred the Knicks to 13 straight wins last season.

Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler will round out the starting five for the Knicks.

RAPS COACH TO BARGS: 'BRING YOUR EARPLUGS': Toronto coach Dwane Casey, according to published reports, said Bargnani “should probably bring his earplugs” to the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

“They can boo him all they want now,” Casey said. “He gave seven great years to the organization, but fans are fans.”

Bargnani, a former No. 1 pick by the Raptors, is making his first appearance in Toronto since being traded to New York in July.

Opening tip: What is Hardaway's role?

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
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Tim Hardaway Jr. will try for an encore Friday night in Toronto.

It will be difficult for the rookie to top his preseason debut, in which he hit 6 of 10 shots, scored 16 points and drilled the game-winning jumper with eight seconds left to beat the Celtics 103-102 on Wednesday.

If Hardaway continues to show in the preseason that he can provide the Knicks with another scorer off the bench, what will Mike Woodson do?

Will Woodson be able to find minutes for the Knicks’ first-round pick? The Knicks' coach already is trying to figure out who he is going to start between Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith at shooting guard.

Also on his to-do list is figuring out how to divvy up backcourt minutes among point guards Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih.

Hardaway provides depth at shooting guard as another young scorer who is fearless. He can be streaky, and there will certainly be growing pains. But Hardaway clearly has no problem taking big shots, as he showed in college and on Wednesday night. At 6-foot-6, Hardaway has size and length to make it tough for other guards to shoot.

Of course, the Knicks signed Metta World Peace to defend guards and forwards and hit some open shots as well. But if Hardaway continues to play well in the preseason, Woodson will have a good problem on his hands.

What do you guys think? Let us know below.

Up now: Ian Begley writes about Hardaway’s impressive debut.

MWP might be must-see TV if his postgame interview after the preseason opener was any indication.

And who would you start at the 2?

What’s next: Andrea Bargnani returns to Toronto as the Knicks face the Raptors tonight in their second preseason game.

Question: What should Hardaway’s role be this season? How many minutes would you give the rookie and what rotation would you like to see?

Prigioni, Felton to start preseason opener

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
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Pablo Prigioni, Raymond FeltonJim Rogash/Getty ImagesPablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton will get starting nods against the Celtics.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton will start in the backcourt in the Knicks' preseason opener Wednesday, but Mike Woodson would like J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert to start alongside Felton once the games count.

Woodson said Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler will join Prigioni and Felton in the starting lineup on Wednesday against Boston.

Woodson said he chose to start Prigioni over Shumpert because Prigioni has been healthy throughout training camp. Shumpert missed two training camp practices last week due to a right shoulder injury.

“I don’t think Iman’s had enough reps yet. It’s nothing against him. He’ll probably play more minutes than all of them tonight,” Woodson said. “We’ll gauge the game and how it goes. Eventually I want to get to a big lineup with Iman or J.R. at the 2 spot.”

If the Knicks go with a big backcourt to start the season, that would lead to fewer minutes for the team’s two-point guard lineup.

Late last season, the starting backcourt of Felton and Prigioni helped lead the Knicks to 13 straight wins.

Woodson has said that he intends to use the two-point guard lineup but would like to “experiment” with a backcourt of either Smith or Shumpert at shooting guard early on.

SHUMP HAD KNEE SORENESS OVER THE SUMMER: Woodson also revealed on Wednesday that Shumpert felt soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee in the offseason and came into training camp a bit out of shape.

Shumpert, who underwent ACL surgery on his left knee in April 2012, said the soreness he experienced over the summer was expected.

“They just don’t want to speed me up [and cause further injury],” he said.

Still, the soreness is significant because Woodson said Wednesday there will be an open competition for the starting shooting guard spot between Shumpert and reigning Sixth Man Award winner Smith.

NO K-MART: Woodson said Kenyon Martin will not play in Wednesday’s preseason opener against the Celtics and is not likely play in the Knicks’ first three preseason games. The Knicks have taken a cautious approach with the 35-year-old Martin in training camp. ... Woodson said training camp invite Cole Aldrich should play significant minutes on Wednesday while backing up Chandler. Aldrich is competing with Josh Powell and Ike Diogu for a spot on the Knicks’ regular-season roster.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woodson to dump two-guard lineup?

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Due to a "logjam" at shooting guard and small forward, coach Mike Woodson is planning to go with a traditional backcourt over the two-point guard backcourt that fueled the Knicks for long stretches last season.

"I know I can always go back to [a backcourt featuring point guards] Pablo [Prigioni] and Raymond [Felton], but, at this point, I’m going to try a big guard if I can and see how it plays out," Woodson said on Sunday.

The reason behind the coach's thinking is this: There are only so many minutes to spread between Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith at shooting guard and Carmelo Anthony and Metta World Peace at small forward.

[+] EnlargeRaymond Felton
AP Photo/Bill KostrounRaymond Felton, left, will start in the backcourt with J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert.
Woodson's comments were a bit surprising only because the Knicks seemed to have so much success last season with a two-point guard lineup.

Due to injuries, Woodson was forced to start Prigioni and Felton in the same backcourt in mid-March.

The result was a season-high 13-game winning streak.

Overall, the Knicks were 15-1 in the regular season when Prigioni and Felton started in the backcourt. They were 9-7 in games that Jason Kidd and Felton started in the same backcourt.

It's worth noting that Woodson can still play the two-point guard alignment even if he doesn't choose to use it as his starting lineup. He can simply insert it later in the game. Of course, he can also change his mind between now and the season-opener.

If Woodson decided to go with Shumpert at shooting guard in a traditional lineup, that could lead to fewer minutes for Prigioni. Based on advanced statistics from last season, the 36-year-old Prigioni was extremely valuable for the Knicks.

New York scored 5.2 more points per 100 possessions when Prigioni was on the floor last season. He also helped with ball movement: The Knicks' assist rate, or percentage of plays that ended in an assist, was 6.8 percent higher with Prigioni on the court.

If Woodson shies away from the two-point guard lineup, it could also cut into the playing time for backup PG Beno Udrih.

Lastly, it might also limit the minutes that Anthony plays at power forward. Anthony was extremely effective at the 4 last season, scoring an NBA-high 28.7 points per game. For what it's worth, Anthony said on Sunday that the debate over whether he plays small or power forward has been a bit overblown.

"Just put me out there, put us out there, on the basketball court. Whoever's in the lineup, we'll adjust to each other. We'll try to make it work and we'll go from there," he said.

He also said he'd welcome a return to small forward.

"I mean, that's what got me here," Anthony said.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks point guard breakdown

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
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Training camp kicks off on Tuesday. To get ready, we are going to take a position-by-position look at the Knicks' roster. We'll have a new position breakdown on the blog each day for the rest of the week. Today, we examine the point guard position.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the Knicks' point guards in the comments section below.

WHAT'S NEW? When Jason Kidd retired, he left a void in two places: the Knicks' locker room and their point guard rotation.

To help replace the void left by Kidd, the Knicks re-signed Pablo Prigioni and inked veteran free agent Beno Udrih. Bringing back Prigioni was a no-brainer once Kidd retired. The Knicks used part of their mini mid-level exception to ink him to a two-year deal with a team option for year three. They got a bit luck in landing Udrih. The nine-year vet signed for the veteran's minimum, agreeing to play for more than $6 million less than he made last season.

HOW WILL IT ALL FIT? On paper, it seems like things will work pretty well on offense. Bringing Prigioni back gives Mike Woodson the chance to play him alongside Raymond Felton in the backcourt. That lineup was crucial to the Knicks' success last season. Once Prigioni was inserted into the starting five in mid March, the Knicks reeled off 13 straight wins.

Just how effective was the Felton-Prigioni backcourt? They shared the floor for 298 minutes last season and the Knicks had an offensive rating, calculated by how many points they scored per 100 possessions, was 119.4. That rating was 10.8 points higher than the team's average for the season.

Also, the Knicks' assist-to-turnover ratio improved by 20 percent when Felton and Prigioni shared the floor together.

It's unclear if Woodson will go with Prigioni and Felton in his starting lineup. But you can be sure that he will use those two in the same backcourt extensively this season. He'll have the freedom to do this, thanks to the acquisition of Udrih.

Udrih gives the Knicks a capable distributor in the second unit. That's key for a team that may have scorers like J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire coming off the bench.

The Knicks' point guards should be fine on offense. But there are questions surrounding the team's ability to defend at the point guard spot.

The opposing lead guard averaged 22.6 points per game last season against New York. That was the highest per-game average the Knicks allowed among the five positions. Opposing lead guards also averaged 18.5 shot attempts, the highest among all five positions. That's an indication that Knicks point guards struggled with on-ball and pick-and-roll defense.

Udrih is not known as a strong defender, so based on past history, it doesn't seem like he can help much in this area.

QUESTION: How do you feel about the Knicks' point guard situation going into the season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR