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The Montreal Forum

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire drives to the basket

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire drives to the basket during a preseason game against Italian team Olimpia Milano. (Oct. 3, 2010) Credit: AP

MONTREAL -- Mike D'Antoni originally planned for tonight's preseason finale here against the Raptors as a dress rehearsal for opening night, which is Wednesday in Toronto. But D'Antoni admitted he's still not set on a starting lineup, let alone a rotation, and therefore will use tonight to let certain players make their case.

"We'll get good work in," D'Antoni said of the game, which, according to Bell Centre officials, is sold out. "I still want to look at some guys so this will be good to experiment with."

D'Antoni appears to be intrigued by a starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas, though Bill Walker and even rookie Landry Fields are still in the mix at the shooting guard position. Wilson Chandler started out as the player to fill that hole at the two, but D'Antoni is now more inclined to use the 6-8 Chandler off the bench in his more natural role as a backup power forward.

Douglas (shoulder) and Danilo Gallinari (wrist) won't play, though both said they could. "But I said, 'Why?'" D'Antoni said. "Just make sure they're ready by Sunday so we can get some good practices in."

Amar'e Stoudemire, who sat out Wednesday's blowout loss in Philadelphia, will dress tonight but is likely to be held to a controlled number of minutes -- basically a good, hard sweat -- as we've seen throughout the preseason. "We'll just see how the game goes," D'Antoni said. "There will come a point where I'll take him out, obviously."

It will be interesting to see how much D'Antoni plays Patrick Ewing Jr. and Shawne Williams, as both are battling for the final roster spot. The team has to make one cut before the opening night rosters are due on Monday at 5 p.m.

"There's a decision to be made," D'Antoni said. "Both of them have made strong cases to fill up that spot. I'll get with Donnie on Sunday and then we'll try to figure it out."

Williams, the former first round pick of the Pacers, has appeared in three preseason games and played a total of 11 minutes. Ewing Jr., a favorite of the coaching staff and, obviously, a Knick legacy, has appeared in three games and played a total of 19 minutes.

It's not a critical spot -- whoever makes it will join Eddy Curry and Kelenna Azubuike on the inactive list most nights -- but there is personal importance to both players. For Williams, it's an opportunity to get his career on track after getting into trouble off-the-court regarding drug-related arrests. For Ewing Jr., it's fulfilling a dream he had as a kid growing up around his father, who was once The Franchise. And it needs to be noted that Ewing Jr. was the final cut in 2008 and the coaching staff was frustrated that they had to do it and keep Stephon Marbury on the roster. The team did give Ewing Jr. a partially-guaranteed contract, worth $473,604, this time around.

One thing to consider is that neither are kept and the Knicks bring in someone from the outside who has been cut elsewhere. Right now no names stand out aside from maybe Kyle Weaver, who was waived by the Bulls on Thursday.

* * *

* - For the Lady Fixers, my good friend and stellar MSG Network sideline reporter Tina Cervasio is hosting her annual event,  "Tina's Tips! A Gal's Guide to the 2010-11 NBA Season" at Haru's in Gramercy Park this Saturday (Oct. 23) from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event costs $20 and includes a specialty cocktail (called the "Courtside Cosmo") and hors d'oeuvres. RSVP via email to happenings@harusushi.com with the subject line "NBA". That puts you on the guest list.

Ronny Turiaf and Roger Mason Jr. are scheduled to attend the event, which is geared toward female fans who want to get a better understanding of the game. It's turned into a great way for female Knicks fans to network but let me warn you, fellas, it's not a place to go fishing, if you know what I mean. This one's mainly for the ladies.

* - Meanwhile, in the midst of preview-writing hell (Fixers, you have no idea how much beat writers loathe writing previews) I am trying to enjoy a rare visit to this wonderful city. But thanks to one of your own, Facebook Fixer Trevor Wilson, I at least have a great soundtrack for a brisk afternoon walk down rue Sainte Catherine. Check out Masia One, Montreal In The Fall:

 

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