Woodson Says 2 Spots Are Up for Grabs

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

The way Knicks coach Mike Woodson sees it, only three players are guaranteed to start when the Knicks open the season Oct. 30 against Milwaukee.

Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler will start, but one backcourt spot and one frontcourt spot remain open.

“I know Tyson and Raymond and Melo are going to start but there’s a few other spots that are wide open,” Woodson said Thursday. “So I’m not guaranteeing no spots, so you gotta go out and earn them. So we’ll see what happens.”

Asked if it was possible that J.R. Smith, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, could move into the starting lineup, Woodson said, “He’s in the mix, too.”

Smith must sit the first five games of the season with a marijuana suspension.

Iman Shumpert started the team’s final 45 games last season, but Woodson wouldn’t guarantee that he would start this year despite the fact that his knee is now healthy after coming back from ACL surgery last season.

“I didn’t know if he was going to be the starting two,” Woodson said. “I don’t know who’s going to start.”

Shumpert himself said that Woodson shouldn’t guarantee him a starting spot until he earns it.

“He shouldn’t name me the starting shooting guard,” Shumpert said. “We wasn’t here for training camp. We don’t know who’s playing well, who’s not. Woody’s job is to put the best five players out there, so after training camp he’ll assess who he needs to start.”

Shumpert sat out practice Thursday after banging his right shoulder during practice Wednesday, but said it wasn’t serious.

“Nothing major, they just want to make sure I’m healthy before I go back out there,” said Shumpert. “I think rest right now would be good….I’m just glad it’s not my knee, man, honestly.”

“He’s fine,” Woodson said. “We was kind of cautious from yesterday and he didn’t do a whole lot today and we’ll evaluate it tonight and see how he feels.”

Aside from the backcourt situation, Woodson must also decide whether he wants to start Metta World Peace or Andrea Bargnani in the frontcourt alongside Anthony and Chandler.

“I think camp is going to determine that,” Woodson said.  “This is a competitive camp and anything can happen. Nothing has ever been set in stone.”