Knicks vs Hawks: Amar'e Out, Kenyon Returns, J.R. & Metta May Start

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New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson admitted he’s “had some struggles” figuring out the best lineup and is mulling a change to the starting five, reports to Ian Begley of ESPN New York.

Amar’e Stoudemire won’t be apart of the change as he will sit out tonight’s game in Atlanta. However, 14-year veteran Kenyon Martin, who didn’t play Sunday vs. San Antonio, will play against the Hawks.

Stoudemire has had three knee surgeries in a 10-month period and has had trouble staying healthy throughout the early part of this season, missing two of the six games — tonight makes it three in seven games.

Martin has been dealing with a lingering ankle injury since April but says he’s healthy and can play as much as the Knicks need him to; he also seemed a little agitated that he didn’t get any minutes in Sunday’s 31-point blow out at home against the Spurs.

“I wanna play. I’m a competitor. I’m all about winning, I’m all about the team, but I wanna play. So Sunday wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination,” Martin said on Tuesday. “I’m not gonna keep going back and forth with you and medical and these numbers you [reporters] keep throwing out there with these minutes. I don’t care about all that. … The guidelines are stuff they put on paper.”

Sunday was the only game Martin hasn’t appeared in this season for New York. He’s averaged 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in a limited 10 minutes a night. Stoudemire is averaging 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11 minutes per game.

The Knicks have been forced to go with a smaller lineup the past two games since Tyson Chandler went down with a non-displaced fracture of the right fibula, resulting in a 4-6 week injury stint. Offseason acquisition Andrea Bargnani started at power forward when Chandler was in the lineup but has since had to move to center with Carmelo Anthony sliding up from small forward to power forward, while Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert filled out the backcourt.

New York is 2-1 this season when starting the combo of Felton and Prigioni at the guard positions, but Woodson has expressed a desire to play with a bigger lineup — which would be especially smart to do tonight against a physical Hawks frontcourt of Al Horford and Paul Millsap.

If the Knickerbockers decide to go bigger, J.R. Smith and Metta World Peace are two possible replacement starters.

The Hawks go with a starting unit of Jeff Teague (6’2″), Kyle Korver (6’7″), DeMarre Carroll (6’8″), Millsap (6’8″) and Horford (6’10”), so the Knicks could counter with Smith (6’6″) instead of Prigioni (6’3″) at SG to guard Korver and World Peace (6’7″) in for Shumpert (6’5″) — who has averaged only four points over the past two games — which would allow Melo (6’8″) to play SF against Carroll instead of PF against the more physical Millsap. Metta vs Millsap would be a backyard brawl of a matchup.

If Woodson continues to play with a smaller lineup, Smith may take Shumpert’s starting spot at small forward while Felton and Prigioni get the nod at the guard positions and Melo and Bargnani play the 4 and 5 spots.

Woodson said he would sleep on the idea of switching the lineup.

Check back soon for updates.

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Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire Atlanta Hawks J.R. Smith Kenyon Martin Metta World Peace New York Knicks

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