ATLANTA -- Iman Shumpert remains a Knick and in their starting lineup, but both could change at some point.
The Knicks' backcourt is crowded and Shumpert could be a valuable asset to get them the frontcourt help they need.
Reportedly, the Knicks and Nuggets have discussed a Shumpert-for-Kenneth Faried trade. The power forward would fill a hole with Tyson Chandler out with a broken right leg and Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin on minutes restrictions.
But the Nuggets, who lost center JaVale McGee indefinitely with a leg injury, are reluctant to move Faried. Other teams likely would have interest in Shumpert, the Knicks' best perimeter defender.
A sign that Shumpert may not be part of the Knicks' future was Mike Woodson saying during preseason that J.R. Smith would get a chance to start after he returned from knee surgery and a five-game drug suspension.
Smith started Wednesday night alongside Shumpert. If Chandler was healthy, Smith might have started in place of Shumpert.
Woodson hopes to get to a big starting lineup likely consisting of Raymond Felton, Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Chandler.
The Knicks also want to develop rookie swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. So Shumpert seems like the odd man out.
But Woodson said he would talk to Shumpert and summoned him to his office before the game.
"It's a part of our business," Woodson said. "Guys get traded. The best players have been traded. But at the end of the day you still got to play. You're still in a Knick uniform and you represent what we're trying to do here so you can't worry about what's in the paper.
"He's a big part of what we do and that's the reason why he's still starting, because I still believe in what he does on the floor and I just expect a lot from him."
Smith essentially said a lack of leadership is the reason the Knicks have stumbled this season. "We miss our vets," Smith said. "The difference between the Jason Kidds, Kurt Thomases, the Rasheed Wallaces, is communication. Last training camp we were a hundred percent better on our communication skills on the offensive end, the defensive end. I think that's the biggest lack right now. We've got to pick that up."
More Martin minutes
Woodson said if he kept Martin in the 15-minute range Wednesday night -- he played 17 -- he might be able to use him against Dwight Howard and the Rockets Thursday night.. . . Huntington's Kenny Atkinson, a former Knicks assistant, was a finalist for the Philadelphia 76ers head-coaching job that went to Brett Brown. Atkinson is in his second season as an Atlanta Hawks assistant