Adam ZagoriaWith Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin looking as though they won’t play back-to-backs this season, the good news for the Knicks is that they have some youth in the frontcourt.
Coach Mike Woodson could opt to keep two out of the threesome of Ike Diogu, Cole Aldrich and Josh Powell in order to compensate for the injured and older bigs with guaranteed contracts.
Although Diogu made a defensive lapse in Monday’s double-OT loss to the Toronto Raptors by leaving Tyler Hansbrough in the first OT, he finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 29 minutes.
Powell tallied 6 rebounds and 1 point in 22 minutes, while Aldrich got a DNP.
That Woodson has the option of keeping several younger bigs stands in stark contrast to last season, when the Knicks went with Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas, two of whom are now retired.
That youth could come in handy, especially with Martin’s ankle looking like it will be a delicate situation all season that will keep him from playing both ends of back-to-backs.
“He and Amar’e both have to be managed to a point where they can’t play back-to-back games,’’ Woodson said in Toronto, according to the New York Post. “Three, four games in five, six nights, we have to look at that closely as we go through the season. If it falls that way, they’ll have to miss a game or two. I got to have them for the long haul.’’
Woodson added: “I think right now Kenyon has to continue to be patient and rehab. I’m not in a hurry in rushing him back right now. I know he wants to play. I’ll see Thursday to see where he is, but he won’t play Wednesday [in Green Bay, Wis.].’
Martin said he would “definitely” play in the season-opener Oct. 30 against Milwaukee.
Still, the strategy of resting Stoudemire and Martin in back-to-back situations is wise and could help the Knicks come playoff time. If some combination of Diogu/Aldrich/Powell prove they can play dependable quality minutes in the frontcourt, it should also help Tyson Chandler get rest during the season.
Stoudemire, meantime, could be cleared to scrimmage today and could play Friday, when the Knicks host Charlotte in their final preseason game.
As could J.R. Smith, who said he’s anxious to get back out with this teammates after missing the preseason thusfar while recovering from knee surgery.
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.