DETROIT — While the Knicks waived the center who began the season in the starting lineup, Enes Kanter, and one of the veterans acquired last week, Wes Matthews, coach David Fizdale said he is content to keep the other newly acquired veteran in the starting lineup.
On Friday night, DeAndre Jordan started his third straight game since coming over from Dallas. Despite the Knicks’ repeated insistence on developing young players, Fizdale said he will keep Jordan, 30, in the starting role and bring Mitchell Robinson, 20, off the bench.
“I’m not even pressing it,” Fizdale said. “I’m just trying to get [Robinson] to a place where he can consistently play 20-plus minutes a night . . . Now that we have DeAndre, a true defensive anchor that can teach him, I don’t mind having DJ in there as a starter and now we can just bring Mitch along. It’s very consistent group to group now, the type of guy that’s in the middle of the floor for us.”
What Fizdale does want from the pairing is for Jordan to mentor Robinson.
“Already, DJ jumped in there,” Fizdale said. “Marcus Camby was DJ’s man back in the day. Really took a lot of time to teach him the right way to do stuff.Now DJ’s paying it forward to Mitchell. I think it’s pretty cool to see how these guys are just kind of handing over these jewels to each other.”
Matthews was with the Knicks for less than a week before they agreed to waive him to allow him to finish his contract with a contender.
“I think it was a classy move by us, as much as I wanted to keep him,” Fizdale said. “All I can do is rave about Wesley Matthews. In a week, he started doing stuff that truly was what I look for out of veterans in our culture. This guy, the second day he was watching film with [Damyean Dotson]. He was taking guys to the side, really coaching them defensively on some technique stuff. He was just a good teammate.
"I just thought what Scott [Perry, the general manager] and them did for him was very classy. Gave him an opportunity to play for a playoff team and contribute to help them in a contract year.”