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Knicks' Kevin Knox might have new role with addition of several wily vets

Knicks forward Kevin Knox gestures from the bench

Knicks forward Kevin Knox gestures from the bench against the Wizards during an NBA preseason game at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kevin Knox paused to think for a long time, searching his memory, when he was asked if he had not been a starter at any time in his basketball career.

Not college. Not high school. Not ever.

There was the occasional game in his rookie season in 2018-19 in which he came off the bench briefly for a learning curve or while recovering from an injury. But he never really had been a second-unit player.

“No, not really. Nah, I never did,” Knox said. “So it will be a different experience for me if that happens.”

It could this season. The Knicks added a lottery pick in RJ Barrett and signed seven veterans. Barrett and Marcus Morris are the frontrunners for starting spots at the wing positions, which would mean a new role for Knox, who not only was the Knicks’ lottery pick a year ago but played nearly 30 minutes a game.

Knox sat out Friday night’s preseason game against Washington with a strained right calf. He has been working his way back into action, practicing in a limited role, and is hopeful of being back on the floor Wednesday against the Hawks.

Morris, entering his ninth season, has a one-year deal with the Knicks. With the team desperate to change its image, he likely will have a huge role.

“It’s great. It’s exactly what I need,” Knox said. “Every single day, going against somebody that’s been in the league a long time, is kind of established in the league. He’s a great player defensively and offensively. He’s always teaching me new moves in the post. Always telling me to take my time.

“He’s a great person to go against, especially a vet like him that was pretty good last year. He shot great percentages. He’s doing good this year. It’s always good to learn from someone like that that’s really good, that I can learn from and take my game to the next level.

“Last year we had some vets on our team. They didn’t really play that much but they were really good just teaching us and talking to us. But this year, we’ve got vets that actually can play and hoop and go out there and compete, so it’s good for us young guys to go against them, play one-on-one.

“In the scrimmages, we go at them. Defensively and offensively, they just really compete and really get after us. So that’s something we can learn from.”

Coach David Fizdale said that when determining a starting lineup and a depth chart, he puts a lot of emphasis on the practice battles but slightly more on the preseason games. He said nothing is set in stone.

“We’ve still got two [preseason] games to play,” Fizdale said. “I want to really evaluate everyone and get a clear look at them before I start putting stuff to paper. Now, I’ve played around with a couple of different hypotheticals. I still want to go through the games and watch those games and see what happens.

“I might still tinker and tweak a little bit and just look at a couple of lineups. At the end of the day, all of these guys have got to be able to play their position with multiple players out on the court and be able to do their jobs.

“Once the season starts, I want to keep that competition high. If a guy is carrying his weight and someone else [isn’t], we make a change then. I don’t want these guys to get comfortable at all.”

Notes & quotes: Dennis Smith Jr. and Damyean Dotson fully practiced Monday. Allonzo Trier was limited with a strained neck and Frank Ntilikina did not practice because of a sore groin.

New York Sports