On the eve of the regular-season opener, Mike Woodson sounds as if he’s ready to change the starting lineup he used most of preseason.
Andrea Bargnani appears out of the starting five and Carmelo Anthony, who had played his more natural small forward during the preseason, is expected to slide back to power forward when the Knicks open up tomorrow against the Bucks.
“I didn’t expect it,” Anthony said. “We didn’t expect it. But that’s what he’s going with. I think guys are ready for this move and everybody seems to be on board with that. Whatever position we have to play we have to go out there and do it.”
Woodson could go with Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler, Metta World Peace and Anthony tomorrow. On most nights last year, he started two point guards, a wing and Chandler and Anthony at power forward. Woodson admits it’s not an ideal situation to have a starting lineup in flux at this point.
“It’s a little sticky,” Woodson said. “I do know there was a lineup that was pretty successful last year that worked for us, that I could always go back to. The fact that I wanted to go back to a conventional lineup with a big frontline, a big two, and a good point guard running the show, I have that option as well. “
Woodson said he hasn’t made his final decision and he’ll sleep on it.
It could be gamesmanship so as to not tip his hand to Bucks’ coach Larry Drew. (Not to mention they don’t have a close relationship anymore. Drew was Woodson’s lead assistant in Atlanta and ultimately replaced him on the bench).
Throughout training camp, Woodson and Anthony talked about the dimension that Bargnani, acquired in the offseason, could add. He’s a 7-footer who stretches the floor with his shooting. But he wasn’t effective in the preseason.
Bargnani averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. He was 3-for-15 from deep and shot 38.1 percent overall. The Knicks were a minus-65 in the 170 minutes he played.
“It’s going to be based on their personnel too based on who they start,” Woodson said. “I’ve talked about going big or going small. Those are the choices that I think I can make this year with this ball club and still get guys to play at a high level.
“We've been successful here with Melo playing a lot of [power forward] and we haven't experimented a whole lot with him playing [small forward] until this exhibition season. So I just feel like, I don't want to go away from it a lot in terms of him playing at the [power forward] spot. But I have options.”