With such a new group in place to start the season, the Knicks can use all the time they can get to make sure players are acclimated with one another.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy has foiled any plans of furthering that process today.
The Knicks’ cancelled practice Monday morning, with just four days remaining until the regular season starts. Players like Carmelo Anthony and Jason Kidd (and not to mention, the inactive Amar’e Stoudemire), are among those who reside in New York City, making it difficult to venture out to Westchester.
Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby were both hoping to hit the hardwood during practice. Each respective big man has been banged up as of late. While Chandler has reportedly been optimistic about being ready for Thursday’s season opener, Coach Mike Woodson hasn’t been able to yet confidently say the same about Camby.
Originally only expected to miss 7-10 days, Camby’s strained calf has kept him sidelined since the fourth day of training camp. Such an injury can actually take weeks, or even months, to heal. The initial timeline was quite optimistic, if not a tad unrealistic. With Stoudemire expected to miss the first handful of games of the regular season, it’s key Camby comes back, but perhaps even more crucial that the Knicks don’t rush his return to the point where he re-aggravates the injury. The second-time Knickerbocker reportedly went through a light workout on Sunday.
J.R. Smith has also been practicing in recent days after missing five preseason contests, according to the New York Daily News. Though Coach Woodson has continuously reiterated his desire to bring Smith off the bench to receive that spark from the second unit, Stoudemire’s injury could also mean a promotion of sorts for Smith. Granted, the swingman needs time to once again find a rhythm in his offense and with his teammates following his return.
As the Knicks play small ball and position Anthony at power forward, they will also have an abundance of different lineup options to go with in regard to the backcourt and small forward positions.
Most recently, the coaching staff has paired Kidd and Raymond Felton up in the backcourt, and thus, placed Ronnie Brewer at the small forward position.
Should New York ultimately prefer to bring Kidd off the bench to help run the show with the second unit, they could also slide Brewer back at shooting guard, creating an opening at small forward. In the interest of going with a smaller lineup, Smith could get thrust into the first unit as the three. Such a move would also solidify Coach Woodson’s desire to run an isolation offense by pairing Smith and Anthony together even more.
Though he expressed excitement about playing alongside Kidd before, Smith also has experience running the floor with former Nuggets teammate Felton as well.
With a few key contributors returning, or at the very least, getting set to do so, the Knicks are beginning to see a couple more interesting doors open. Looking to overcome Stoudemire’s injury, New York needs some more time to explore their various lineup possibilities.
Hopefully Hurricane Sandy doesn’t take too much of the time they still have away.