TORONTO – Andrea Bargnani’s stiff back loosened up just in time for him to hear the boos in the city he called home for seven years.
Bargnani, who's back tightened Sunday, will play Monday night when the Knicks face the Raptors. He’ll start up front with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. The backcourt could be Beno Udrih and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Raymond Felton (strained left hamstring) and Iman Shumpert (sprained right elbow) won’t play. Mike Woodson also said he may not have Pablo Prigioni because he came down with “a bug” overnight.
But Woodson had said the plan was to look at some of his younger players and camp invitees in this game and try to use more of a regular rotation the last two preseason games. Though there are no guarantees Felton and Shumpert – the likely opening night starting backcourt – or some of the banged-up Knicks can play in either or both of the last two games.
The Knicks will practice here Tuesday before flying to Green Bay for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. Woodson hopes J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire will be able to scrimmage.
If so, and there are no setbacks, it’s possible – POSSIBLE – one or both could play in Friday’s preseason finale at the Garden. But the Knicks won’t push it, especially with Stoudemire, after he underwent his third knee surgery over the summer in about 10 months.
It’s unclear if Kenyon Martin will scrimmage or play in any of the last two preseason games as the Knicks continue to rest him and his left ankle that he sprained at the end of last season. Martin said he’s ready to play. He’s won’t push to play in the preseason, but he said, “I’m going to press the issue about playing in the regular season.”
So tonight Woodson probably will take more of a look at C.J. Leslie, Josh Powell, Cole Aldrich and Chris Smith. Combo guard Tour’e Murry and forward Ike Diogu has played well the past two games and could be the leading candidates to make the team.
The Knicks have 12 players with guaranteed contracts. So they have three spots to fill, and size is a need with the uncertainty up front with Stoudemire and Martin.