The way the Knicks have played recently, it’s hard to question Jeff Hornacek’s rotations, although fans probably wish he would play second-year center Willy Hernangomez more.
But Hornacek is getting good center play from Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn, which raises this question: What will happen when Joakim Noah comes off the suspended list a week from Monday?
“I think that’s something that we’re going to have to figure out,” Hornacek said.
The clock is ticking on Knicks management to make a move to clear a roster spot for Noah on the active roster. He’s eligible to return Nov. 13 against the Cavaliers.
Noah, who is in the second season of a four-year, $72-million deal, is the Knicks’ best interior defender and is in great physical condition after knee and shoulder injuries limited him last season. He could get some minutes. But the Knicks have a glut at the center position, so unless they move one of them, it will be difficult to distribute the minutes well enough to keep everyone happy.
Hornacek said the players have to understand and put the team first and wait for their opportunity.
“How we’re playing, there might be nights when guys get in and other nights when they don’t,” Hornacek said. “If we all accept that we’re a team and we’re trying to do this together, then everybody’s contribution is important whether you’re playing or not.”
Ron Baker, whom the Knicks signed to a two-year, $8.9-million contract during the summer, has been inactive for six consecutive games. Mindaugas Kuzminskas has yet to be active this season.
“I feel bad,” Hornacek said. “There are 16 guys on the roster and not everybody can play.”
Kanter can guard
Kanter, who was acquired from Oklahoma City in the Carmelo Anthony trade, has made a huge impact for the Knicks inside. He’s one of the best interior players in the league and came into Sunday’s game averaging 14.1 points and 10.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes. He had nine points and 18 rebounds in 31 minutes as the Knicks beat the Pacers, 108-101.
Hornacek also has been pleased with Kanter’s defense, which has been a weakness his whole career.
“Defensively, I think he’s really trying,” Hornacek said. “He probably has had that reputation in the past that he’s not a great defender, but for things we’re doing, he’s had some great plays.
“He’s kind of figuring out — I think early in the season, he was worried about his own man and consequently he was missing some of his rotations. But he hasn’t done that in the last five games, so he’s picking that up.”