Knicks Pre-Season Preview: Rotation Players, Part I

Mar. 05, 2010 - Toronto, ONTARIO, CANADA - epa02066852 New York Knicks Wilson Chandler (L) goes up to the basket against Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in Toronto, Canada on 05 March 2010. The Raptors defeated the Knicks 102-96.

Wilson Chandler, aka Wil The Thrill, has been one of the few good Knicks the last two years. Will he be a starter again this season, or could he >gasp< find himself glued to the bench? (Source:

With a few days before training camp and positional battles begin, today we discuss who will likely be the Knick starters, part of the rotation, and the bench boys.  We have considerable depth, but as we said when discussing previews from other sites, Coach Mike D’Antoni has consistently shown himself to be someone who likes a short rotation.  Why?  A combination of it being easier to develop chemistry amongst a smaller group and the fact that he literally doesn’t seem to trust lots of players.

Last season was the first time he really sort of gave everyone a shot, playing his full roster, but that was only after all hopes for the playoffs were gone.  He conceded that perhaps the best and only move for him at that point was to determine who was worthy of being kept.  It proved fruitful, revealing that guys he’d normally keep glued to the bench, like Toney Douglas and Bill Walker, could actually contribute.  It also showed that others like JR Giddens and Sergio Rodriguez weren’t quite getting it.

That said, it seems unlikely D’Antoni will attempt that same path of giving everyone a shot during the season.  Yes, if someone repeatedly falters, perhaps he’ll give someone else a chance, but we saw how long it took for him to ultimately decide to bench Chris Duhon despite him clearly not being starter material.  He likely will give everyone a fair shake during training camp and perhaps he’ll even tinker slightly with his rotation during the first month, but by mid-December, baring injury, expect the rotation to be firmly set.

Before we can determine who might be in this group, it’s important to examine the type of players that D’Antoni has liked/disliked in the past.


1. Intelligent players who make the right choices (ie. Chris Duhon versus Nate Robinson, Shawn Marion versus Al Harrington).

2. Ability to play/cover multiple positions (ie. Marion could be SF or PF, Amar’e PF or C, Jared Jeffries would cover 1s through 4, Wilson Chandler 2s through 4s, etc.)

3. Doesn’t like just pure shot-blockers who are iffy rebounders and also don’t play smart/contribute on offense (ie. The Anti-Darko Clause, aka The Things Don’t Look Promising For Timofey Mozgov Corollary.  By contrast D’Antoni was fine with Earl Barron because he was a rebounding machine and only attempted smart, in-control shots near the basket.  Another player shut out by this rule was Jordan Hill who was a decent rebounder but whenever he was near the hoop he was so nervous he’d rush awful point blank shots that’d miss).

4. Likes solid three-point shooters (see above preferences for Toney & Bill Walker over Giddens and Rodriguez).

5. Incorrect rumored dislike of rookies (he gave decent minutes to Leandro Barbosa, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas when they were all rooks.  It’s more the intelligence factor that hurts rookies getting into the rotation, which is likely why Donnie Walsh drafted smart developed players like Landry Fields and Andy Rautins.  And when Walsh realized that third draft pick Jerome Jordan was too raw to get minutes under D’Antoni, he let Jordan go to Europe to develop).

6. Prefers players who can run, play lots of minutes, and play hard (aka The Eddy Curry Is Screwed Principle).

In other words, for once pretty much everyone on the roster but Timo and Curry are D’Antoni type players.

To see where the remaining players fit in, check out Part II.

Tags: Al Harrington Andy Rautins Bill Walker Chris Duhon Danilo Gallinari Darko Milicic Donnie Walsh Earl Barron Eddy Curry Jared Jeffries Jordan Hill JR Giddens Landry Fields Mike D'Antoni Sergio Rodriguez Shawn Marion Timofey Mozgov Toney Douglas Wilson Chandler

  • michael


  • Brendan Galella

    Mike has the right lineup unless Kelenna Azubuike can come back faster than expected. New York’s starting lineup on opening night will probably be:

    C- Ronny Turiaf
    PF- Amar’e Stoudemire
    SF- Danilo Gallinari
    SG- Wilson Chandler
    PG- Raymond Felton

    6th- Anthony Randolph

    Just out of curiosity, any speculation as to why the Knicks didn’t make a push to bring back Earl Barron? He seemed to fit in well, and with Timofey Mozgov a complete unknown (he looked OK when Team USA faced his Russian team in the FIBA World Championship)bringing back a guy that can rebound and play defense seems like a good idea.

    • Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      I have no idea why we gave up on Earl. I do know that last year we offered him an unguaranteed contract for this season, but he turned it down because he felt like he could get a guaranteed one during free agency. Then apparently during free agency there was some miscommunication between the team and his agent or something where one of the parties thought the other one was no longer interested. However, that was apparently cleared up, yet they stopped pursuing him. Maybe Donnie Walsh/the Knicks didn’t like the way the dealings had gone between them and Earl/his agent and they just decided, forget it, he’s not worth the hassle. Seems odd to me. Particularly since he still remains unsigned, I’d think they could even get him for the minimum now. Although then we’d have to drop someone since we’re already at 15 players (but I dunno if Ewing’s contract is fully guaranteed or not. Probably not, so we could easily waive him.)

  • Brendan Galella
  • Alex

    Alex – Send me your email address. Can’t seem to find it and want to ask you about something. -Alex Zelvin ([email protected])

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