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David Fizdale may give Knicks' starting five a makeover

Coach considering lineup changes for Wednesday's game in Oklahoma City; Kevin Knox and Trey Burke could receive more minutes.

Knicks coach David Fizdale gestures during the first

Knicks coach David Fizdale gestures during the first half against the Hawks on Wednesday in Atlanta. Photo Credit: AP/John Amis

GREENBURGH, N.Y. —- It looks like another shake-up is coming to the Knicks' starting five.

As his team finished practice Tuesday and prepared to head to the airport for a flight to Oklahoma City, coach David Fizdale said he is contemplating some tweaks to the young lineup that he has been using since the sixth game of the season.

 “We are going to look at some more stuff, me and the staff, when we get on the plane,” Fizdale said. “Look at some groups and I may make some changes, but I’m not there yet.”

Fizdale said the changes could involve finding more time for rookie forward Kevin Knox, who is starting to play well after coming back from an ankle injury. It also is assumed that he may move Frank Ntilikina either out of the starting lineup or shift him to another role, possibly small forward.

Ntilikina, the only Knicks player to start all 14 games, has struggled on offense lately. After Ntilikina missed three straight shots in the first six minutes of the Knicks’ 115-89 loss to Orlando Sunday night, Fizdale took him out of the game and he did not return.

Ntilikina said he wasn’t upset about being removed from the game.

“I’m just doing my job to be ready and play when he calls me on the court,” Ntilikina said. "I just want to do what’s best for the team. I have confidence that coach will do what’s best for the team. We all want success.”

 While Ntilikina has been a liability on offense at times, he is one of the team’s best defenders, especially on the perimeter. The Knicks play the Thunder and possibly Russell Westbrook Wednesday night. Westbrook has missed four straight games with an ankle injury but could return Wednesday. Ntilikina didn’t get much time against him last season as a rookie, and it sounds like a challenge he wants to take on.

“You know you can’t stop a player of that talent, but try to limit them and make them go in a spot they don’t like,” Ntilikina said. “And I think that’s the goal for tomorrow if he plays."

One player who may benefit from a change is Trey Burke, who began the season as a starter but has been coming off the bench the last nine games. Burke had 10 points and five assists in 20 minutes against Orlando.

Would it mean something for Burke to get back in the starting lineup?

 “Yeah, it would,” Burke said. “I definitely want to be back in the starting lineup. At this point, I only know I can control what I can control. Coach is going to make a decision. Our job is to be ready to play. Me, I’m working every day . . . If it happens it happens. It’s not that big of a deal but to answer your question, yeah I would like to be a starter.”

 The Knicks certainly could use someone who can distribute the basketball. They are last in the league in assists with an average 19.1 per game, a statistic that rankles Fizdale.

 “It makes me want to yack, to be honest with you,” Fizdale said. “But you know, it can only go up from here.”


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