New York Knicks: If anyone, who leaves the starting lineup?

New York Knicks Lance Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Lance Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

If anyone loses their starting spot on the New York Knicks, who’s the most likely player?

While not a definitive statement, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale teased potential changes to the starting lineup after Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. He said “maybe” something will be tweaked, but not to the detriment of the second unit.

The question is who leaves the lineup if Fizdale decides to make a change?

Lance Thomas sits at the forefront of this. Despite defensive prowess against bigger players, his offense has been absent through four games, with just 3.3 points on 23.1 percent shooting in 18.0 minutes. It’s enough for a role player, but not to open games and generate momentum.

Fizdale can still give Thomas the same minutes off the bench and spread them throughout the game. It allows for more offense initially, so the Knicks potentially avoid playing catch-up for the fourth consecutive game.

Noah Vonleh, traditionally, would take Thomas’ spot in the starting lineup. The journeyman forward has strong per-minute numbers to back up his case, due to 8.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in just 17.0 minutes. That may not provide an offense solution, but place the next man up in the big man depth.

However, even without reason for Fizdale’s desire to make a change or what he wants from a replacement, Vonleh doesn’t offer the ability to spread the floor that others off the bench do.

Mario Hezonja stands out as a candidate to replace Thomas. Despite defensive questions, his streaky shooting can ignite New York on any night, much like it did against the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, the latter of which saw him play 30 minutes and score 18 points after a dose of public criticism.

At 6-foot-8, Hezonja brings outside shooting from a stretch four position in smaller lineups. He’s a mismatch for frontcourts to defend, and it can open games for the Knicks early on the perimeter.

If Kevin Knox was healthy, he would become the logical choice to start after Fizdale’s early confidence in his minutes off the bench. That may still happen upon return, but look for him to ease into action following the 2-to-4 week timetable, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported.

Fizdale may opt to replace someone else in the lineup, not Thomas. Except Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter and Trey Burke have all driven the offense enough to fortify spots, while Frank Ntlikina plays nearly 30 minutes per game, even without stat sheet-stuffing numbers.

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It’s Thomas or seemingly nothing for Fizdale’s lineup change, at least on paper. The answer should arrive before Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors.