James White Gaining Favor Within the Knicks’ Coaching Staff?

Though Jason Kidd was simply “resting” according to the Knicks officials as he sat out for most of the Knicks’ 106-104 victory over the Hawks on Sunday evening, there’s already talk of allowing Kidd to sit out for extended periods of time, if that’s in fact what it takes for him to feel comfortable come playoff time.

Without the likes of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert to eat up minutes in the roster this past month, the Knicks’ coaching staff needed to get creative with regard to how they balanced the lineup. Thus, having both players back now is undoubtedly a luxury, but there’s no doubt that the rotation was altered by a bevy of switches and swaps along the way.

As players such as Ronnie Brewer, Chris Copeland, James White, and Kurt Thomas have come to understand this season, playing time and starting stints can come quite sporadically as the Knicks aim to perfect their ideal lineup week after week, depending on player health and certain matchups.

With Kidd sidelined to start the second half on Sunday night, Coach Mike Woodson opted to throw White into the mix with the starting five to start the third quarter. Though the swingman was subbed out relatively quickly (having played all of four minutes in the game), it’s clear Woodson is at least somewhat comfortable with the idea of White playing alongside the first unit. He has five starts on the season, and could earn himself a sixth, should Kidd sit out against the Magic on Wednesday.

Granted, White’s 1.9 points per game average and limited minutes thus far suggests he isn’t one to make that much of an impact. Alas, perhaps the way he quietly fits right in is what makes him appealing.

When/if inserting a player like J.R. Smith or Amar’e Stoudmire into the starting lineup, things are clearly shaken up a bit more. Not only would either player expect to be one of the more focal points of the team’s offense, but they would also undoubtedly take away from some of what the other players bring to the table. Mixing things up by adding more notable players like that often means sharing the ball as well as the attention.

The good thing about White, ala Brewer or previous starting two guard Landry Fields, is that each player knows his role, aiming to pace the Knicks’ defensively. Even for the limited minutes White appears in the game, all he needs to do is worry about his defensive assignment(s) and remember to spread the floor by moving well without the ball on offense. Both Brewer and Fields seemed to understand that, before each fell into their own respective ruts and fell out of favor ever so quickly.

But what may be Brewer’s loss this season could become White’s gain. With Brewer seemingly in Coach Woodson’s doghouse, and the Knicks still attempting to find a rhythm with regard to the starting five, the coach seems content with perhaps giving White an opportunity. According to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, the high-flying swingman is rapidly moving up in the team’s rotation as he continues to gain Woodson’s trust.

Is it a coincidence that White seems to be rising up (pun intended) as a viable option for New York as we inch closer and closer to NBA All-Star Weekend (more specifically, the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest)? It’ll be interesting to see how the swingman fares with regard to the new opportunity.

As some of my blogger buddies ponder potential moves that may give the Knicks a boost by the trade deadline, perhaps one can count White out of any such proposals with this recent surge of favoritism.