Friday, March 16, 2012
Jeremy Lin still Knicks starter
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
New New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson made one thing clear after shootaround Friday morning: Jeremy Lin is still his starting point guard. But questions remain over how Lin's role will change in Woodson's offense.
"Jeremy is a big part of what we do. He's our starting point guard," said Woodson, who replaced Mike D'Antoni Wednesday. "He and I are on the same page. I thought the other night he played extremely well. We played well as a group."
Lin's role likely will change in Woodson's system, which features more isolation and fewer pick-and-roll sets. Pick-and-rolls were a staple of the offense of D'Antoni, who resigned as part of a mutual decision with management. Lin generated many scoring opportunities off pick-and-rolls.
That means Lin likely will take fewer shots in Woodson's set. Some have speculated that Baron Davis could even usurp Lin as the Knicks' starter, but that won't happen -- yet.
"Right now Jeremy Lin is our starting point guard and Baron is backing him up," Woodson said during his pregame chat with reporters before Friday's game against Indiana. "That's the way it's going to be the rest of the season pretty much unless somebody gets hurt. I like that rotation. We also can move (Iman Shumpert) over to one sometimes. That's kind of the rotation I'm looking at right now."
Lin and Woodson spoke Friday and the coach told the second-year guard that he remains the team's starter.
"He said that's not going to change. He told me not to worry about anything, just play my game," Lin said after conferring with Woodson to make sure it was OK to answer a reporter's question about his role.
Woodson also told Lin to "continue to initiate the offense, be aggressive. He's said there's going to be a lot of spacing and still the opportunity to play pick-and-roll. But at the same time we're going to utilize the post as well."
Mike Bibby, who played for Woodson in Atlanta, said Woodson's offense is 'totally different' from D'Antoni's. A point guard's role in Woodson's offense, Bibby says, is to get the ball in the hands of the team's scorers.
"Just make plays and knock down shots," he said.
Lin had been relied upon to score more under D'Antoni. He took 14 shots per game when D'Antoni was coaching.
Woodson's new offense should give Carmelo Anthony more opportunity to operate in the post, meaning fewer shots for Lin. But Anthony thinks it's premature to predict the end of Linsanity.
"Lin is Lin. I don't think Lin is paying attention to any of that stuff that is going on right now. Lin is about winning. Lin is about this team. Lin is about doing things to help this team win," Anthony said. "As far as the Linsanity thing goes, it's still there. That's not going nowhere."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.