GREENBURGH, N.Y. - When the Knicks unveil their new-look team for the first time this season in Toronto Wednesday night, they expect to have two rookies on the floor.
Coach Mike D'Antoni revealed after the team's final preseason practice Tuesday that his starting lineup for the opener will include rookies Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov, along with newcomers Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton and holdover Danilo Gallinari.
Latest Knicks stories
Mozgov, however, was later listed as questionable for the opener because he took a knee to the left hip on a play under the basket toward the end of practice. He limped gingerly off the court, but the team isn't worried about any long-term effects, with D'Antoni describing the injury as a bruise.
D'Antoni experimented with different starting lineups during the final preseason games, specifically looking for the right fit at shooting guard. He ultimately chose Fields, a second-round draft pick out of Stanford, in part because he likes the offense that Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas will provide off the bench.
Beginning the game on the sideline will be a new role for Chandler, who started 134 of the 147 games he's played the past two seasons. But D'Antoni insisted Chandler's playing time will not be reduced in this new role, saying Chandler will play "the same amount of minutes as when he started."
And Chandler wasn't worried. "He's a good coach, so whatever he feels is best for the team, however he wants to organize it, I'm with him 100 percent," he said.
Team president Donnie Walsh said he was surprised when he first heard D'Antoni's plan to start two rookies, Fields and Mozgov, but Walsh said he was on board with it.
"Might as well throw them in the fire," Walsh said.
D'Antoni joked that had he been told at the start of training camp that this would be the opening-night lineup, "I would have thought I was in trouble." But Fields consistently impressed the coaching staff during the preseason with his steady heads-up play, allowing D'Antoni to consider different lineup configurations.
"In my mind, I had my group written down ready to go but these rookies have shown that they can do a little bit more than I thought they could do and that changes things," D'Antoni said. "Now we don't have as many holes as I thought we would have and we can fill the bench scoring - which I thought would be a problem - with Will."
D'Antoni has shown in past seasons he's not averse to changing the lineup on the fly. So though this starting unit intrigues him from a matchup standpoint, he's not committing to it long-term quite yet. "I'm going to see how it goes," he said. "I'm not saying the next game it will be like that."
Notes & quotes: Anthony Randolph will not be available for the opener after spraining his left ankle during practice. Last season with the Golden State Warriors, Randolph did not play after Jan. 8 because of two torn ligaments in his left ankle. The Knicks said that X-rays taken Tuesday were negative.