Iman Shumpert may start for Knicks in London

Iman Shumpert practices during Knicks training camp at

Iman Shumpert practices during Knicks training camp at the Madison Square Garden Training Center. (Oct. 7, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

LONDON - Iman Shumpert is expected to make his season debut Thursday and maybe as a starter.

Woodson didn't rule out inserting the second-year guard in the starting lineup against the Pistons at O2 Arena.

"We'll see," Woodson said. "That could be a possibility, as well, based on him loosening up. If the doctors said that might be the way to go, I wouldn't be scared of putting him in the starting lineup. He's been there before."

Woodson has been much more hesitant about starting Amar'e Stoudemire, who has been on a minutes restriction and has come off the bench in seven games since his return.

The Knicks had great success playing Carmelo Anthony at power forward earlier this season, so Woodson might not want to change that. But the shooting guard play has been inconsistent. Shumpert's return from left knee surgery can give the Knicks a boost. At 22, he's the youngest player on the team.

James White started the last two games at shooting guard, replacing the struggling Ronnie Brewer. Play at the position has been erratic since Jason Kidd slid back to the point with Raymond Felton out with a fractured right pinkie.

Shumpert, who started 35 games as a rookie and impressed with his defense and poise, was expected to recapture his starting role at some point. But several factors will go into that and whether he plays Thursday, including what the Knicks' doctors tell Woodson and how Shumpert feels after what's supposed to be a tough practice Wednesday.

After the Knicks flew to London through the night Monday, Woodson gave everyone Tuesday off to sightsee, shop or rest. He said he was "groggy" himself and planned to spend time with his family and watch video with his coaches.

But Woodson said the Knicks would have "a full-blown" and "camplike" practice Wednesday, featuring five-on-five scrimmaging.

Woodson wants the Knicks to regain the sharpness and focus they had when they went 14-4 to open the season, but he also wants Shumpert to go through a gamelike practice to test the knee and make sure he's comfortable.

"We'll evaluate him on Thursday at shootaround and see where he is mentally and physically and make a decision [whether] to play," Woodson said.

Woodson hopes to add more key pieces in the near future in Felton and Rasheed Wallace, who has been out nearly five weeks with a stress reaction in his left foot. Woodson can't predict when either will return, but Wallace is doing conditioning work and shooting, and Felton has been running.

"We haven't had a full deck all season, so it will be interesting to see," he said. "It's all about timing."

Notes & quotes: Family members came on this trip and Woodson brought his daughter and nephew's daughter. Woodson and his daughter were in London last summer when Anthony and Tyson Chandler won Olympic gold.

"To win a gold medal for your country, it's a hell of an experience," Woodson said. "The fact that they made it happen and the fact that they're a part of the Knicks, that says a lot for our organization and a lot for them because they put in a lot of hard work to get that accomplished."

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