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Four-man battle to be Knicks' starting power forward

Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Knicks takes a

Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Knicks takes a shot in the first half of a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- On Opening Night last season, the Knicks' starting power forward was Carmelo Anthony. That is unlikely to be repeated Oct. 29 when the Knicks open this season against the Bulls at the Garden.

The Knicks have three preseason games left, starting with Monday night's visit from Jason Kidd's Milwaukee Bucks.

Coach Derek Fisher will use the remaining preseason games and practices to choose from among four players at power forward: Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Jason Smith and Quincy Acy.

"We're kind of looking at some things," Fisher said Sunday after the team's fourth straight day of scrimmages. "We'll talk about the last four days as coaches, kind of what we observed during a lot of our scrimmages this week and a lot of our five-man activities. We've mixed the groups up a lot and we have some different guys in the frontcourt at times, different guys in the backcourt, so we'll kind of reassess who has been effective this week and try to put a good lineup together."

Bargnani missed every one of those practices (and the last three games) with a hamstring injury. Fisher said there is no chance Bargnani, who started the preseason opener Oct. 8, will play tonight.

"He hasn't been able to practice the last few days, so it wouldn't be smart to jeopardize him by putting him into game action," Fisher said.

Acy has started the last three games. The Knicks picked up the 24-year-old, along with Travis Outlaw, in a trade with Sacramento in August.

Smith, who signed with the Knicks after spending the previous four seasons with New Orleans, had 14 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes against the 76ers on Tuesday in Syracuse.

"It wasn't just me," Smith said. "It was my teammates hitting me on good passes, working the ball around throughout the offense, going through good pace. It wasn't just one-on-one basketball. It was definitely moving the ball, pick-and-pop stuff . . . That's generally my game. It's a credit to our team, really learning the offense, getting with the triangle offense and running it smoothly."

Then there's Stoudemire, who is the most accomplished player of the group. Fisher has been impressed that he has been able to stay healthy in training camp. The coach said any minutes restrictions on the 31-year-old by the medical staff shouldn't be a factor when deciding on the starter.

"We're excited that we can go into the season with an open mind in that regard," Fisher said. "It's worked well so far."

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