New York Knicks basketball! Live! On television! From Rhode Island?
Yes, from Rhode Island!
The Knicks kick off the preseason tonight against the new look, rebuilding (read: tanking) rival Boston Celtics. It will be our first look at a bunch of freshly-minted Knicks, and we won’t have to wait for long to see the most argued, most talked about, perhaps most divisive acquisition in recent Knicks’ history, Andrea Bargnani. Earlier on Tuesday, head coach Mike Woodson announced that Bargnani would start, essentially replacing Iman Shumpert in the starting lineup from last year’s playoffs. New York will begin with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the backcourt, and Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler rounding out the front court with Bargnani.
Although it doesn’t mean this is how the Knicks will lineup when the games start counting for real, it’s an interesting development nonetheless. Some are probably upset that this moves Carmelo Anthony back to the small forward position, but that’s really in title only. Having Bargnani as a screen-setter and outside shooter still allows Anthony to operate on the block on offense, where he’s usually a force. However, it will be interesting to see how the Celtics (and future teams) decide to guard Anthony and Bargnani when they share the floor, and this may dictate who plays what “position” as much as anything. And defensively, well, we’ll just see.
This moves Iman Shumpert, who Woodson noted has a balky knee, (and honestly, who on the Knicks doesn’t?) temporarily to the bench, where he’ll likely operate as a shooting guard/small forward hybrid. He’ll join more new Knicks, Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace, on a second unit that’s likely to include Cole Aldrich playing the role of backup center and a rotating cast of rookies and others who are trying to make the team.
Out of those “extras”, I’d imagine a lot of time will be given to rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. With J.R. Smith recovering from surgery and suspended the first five games of the season, the former Michgan standout has an opportunity to earn some minutes. While it’s going to be hard for him to consistently crack the lineup once the regular season begins, he can do himself some favors with good performances in the preseason. It will be interesting to see what he does with his time tonight and further in the preseason.
As for the Knicks’ opponent, well, these aren’t your father’s Celtics. Gone are most of the people that have made the Knicks and their fans want to punch innocent children over the past bunch of seasons. They’ve mostly re-located to a retirement home somewhere in Brooklyn, I think. But the guys that are in green and white that the Knicks are familiar with are the scrappy Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford (who Carmelo Anthony may or may not have some words with at some point) and the newly-acquired Gerald Wallace. Rajon Rondo, the team’s best player, is still recovering from a knee injury of his own, so he won’t play, but we’ll surely see plenty of the Celtics’ rookie big man Kelly Olynyk. I mean, who isn’t looking forward to the Olynyk-Aldrich matchup? Fascinating stuff.
Well, we’re here. Actual Knicks basketball!