GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Knicks had their most successful year in more than a decade last season by playing small, but Mike Woodson is leaning toward going big this season.
Andrea Bargnani has been working mostly with the starting unit, playing alongside Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler up front. The 7-foot Bargnani gives the Knicks a different dynamic because of his shooting ability. He can draw defenders and open things up for his teammates. Bargnani also could get more open looks than he did with Toronto by playing with Anthony.
"It's looking good, but I don't know who's going to start yet," Woodson said after practice Sunday. "But I like the makeup of Andrea and Melo on the floor at the same time with Tyson. In the scrimmage, we worked that combination. It wasn't bad."
The Knicks won 54 games last season, and on most nights, they started two point guards and Anthony at power forward. Woodson said he's planning to go with a bigger shooting guard next to Raymond Felton this season. Iman Shumpert is the leading candidate. Woodson also said that if he thinks it's the way to go, he again will start Felton and Pablo Prigioni.
The preseason starts this week, so Woodson said he will get a better idea of what his lineup will be. But he doesn't plan to use his regulars that much until the last preseason game or two.
It makes sense to start Bargnani to give Anthony another scorer on the floor with him. Bargnani averaged at least 17 points three different seasons in his career. It also allows Anthony to move back to his more natural small forward position.
Anthony excelled last year at power forward, leading the NBA in scoring at 28.7 points per game, but he also took a physical beating on both ends of the court against some of the bigger forwards. Anthony would welcome a return to his natural position, and he acknowledged he will be playing with Bargnani a lot.
"That's what got me here," Anthony said. "As far as the small forward-power forward thing, I think people are looking at it a little too much. Just put me out there, put us out there on the basketball court, whoever's in the lineup, we'll adjust to each other. We'll try to make it work."
"For the most part, [Bargnani's] actually a smart player, he can play off people. The way we play, we space the court, so a lot of time all the attention is on me, he can just space out, he can do what he has to do. This week, I saw from him, the game has been much easier for him. He don't have to try to force anything and do what he's not used to doing out of his comfort zone."
The Knicks could struggle defensively with Bargnani in the starting lineup. Defense and rebounding are not his strengths.
"He's capable of putting the ball down on the floor and making plays," Woodson said. "He brings a lot from an offensive standpoint. I just got to get him up to date from a defensive standpoint and stay out of the way offensively. I've got to still feed him and let him do his thing out there."