48° Good Afternoon
48° Good Afternoon

Healthy Knicks giving Derek Fisher a variety of options

New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher speaks

New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher speaks to the media to preview the upcoming season at the MSG Training Center on Sept. 29, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Derek Fisher won't commit to how many players will be in the Knicks' regular-season rotation, but unlike last year, he has plenty of healthy options.

Barring someone getting hurt in the next couple of days, the Knicks should have a full complement of players for their preseason finale Thursday night in Boston. Fisher has dreams of that carrying over to the regular-season opener in Milwaukee on Oct. 28.

"Definitely nightmares of not starting healthy last year still reign supreme," Fisher said after Monday's practice. "So we want to make sure that the main guys are healthy."

Kristaps Porzingis, Arron Afflalo and Kevin Seraphin have sat out preseason games because of injury, but they're back practicing in full and playing again. The only regular missing from practice was Derrick Williams, who sat out with an illness.

At this point last year, the Knicks already were without starters Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.

"Everybody is back," Fisher said. "Everything that we've done over the last couple of months is with that in mind; that we want to get to this point where everybody can be healthy and we can really go into the season with all of our guys. We're still some days away, but it's looking good."

If everyone is available, the Knicks' likely starting lineup for Thursday night's game -- and opening night -- will be Calderon, Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Porzingis and Robin Lopez. They haven't played together in the preseason even once.

Fisher could go 10 or 11 players deep, depending on the game.

He likes the backcourt pairing of rookie Jerian Grant and second-year guard Langston Galloway. Williams has shown he can score, along with Sasha Vujacic. Kyle O'Quinn seems to have locked up the backup center spot with his defense, toughness and offensive versatility.

If he goes deeper into his bench, Fisher likes the leadership and effort that Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson provide, Seraphin's size and touch and Cleanthony Early's improved conditioning and overall game.

"I don't see why you can't play nine or 10 or maybe sometimes 11 guys," Fisher said. "It may not be a lot of minutes. I think it's important for you to have some balance with the minutes throughout the season because you're going to need guys nine, 10 and 11, sometimes even 12 in the playoffs. You never know. Everybody should be ready every night to contribute."

From the start of camp, Fisher has talked about the professionalism of this group. He continued to praise them Monday and said, "They're showing a level of connectedness and desire to play a team game."

Between now and opening night, Fisher hopes they can continue to build familiarity and the rotation can become clearer.

"Hopefully, not just Thursday night but by the time we get to next Wednesday, we have a better rhythm of how to play basketball together," Fisher said. "These guys are kind of figuring out how they can win together."


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