The New York Knicks rotation will inevitably face a crunch for the regular season. Who might struggle to receive consistent minutes?
14 guaranteed contracts for, potentially, up to 10 rotation spots put the New York Knicks in a crunch in the summer. It did not make head coach David Fizdale’s job any easier, and that made its way into the preseason.
Each exhibition game tested players for not just the starting lineup but the countless reserve spots. Newcomers like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were among the top performers, while Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. struggled to get their feet underneath them. The latter two, however, will probably find opening night minutes, given the point guard situation.
Outside of the starters and highly placed reserves, some players battled for on-court time in the preseason and will continue to do so once meaningful games begin. Others might struggle to find any role. Who are these players, and where do they stand before opening night?
Once Fizdale’s 2018 favorite, Allonzo Trier struggled to find a role in the preseason, playing fewer than 20 minutes in the first two games and not playing in the third outing. The finale saw him play 24 minutes and score 17 points, but without Frank Ntilikina, Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris in the lineup.
RJ Barrett is not leaving the lineup anytime soon, so Trier’s competition is Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson and the point guards who do not make the starting lineup. It might be too packed to play each game, especially if Fizdale wants different looks, but the Arizona product should at least start the season in the rotation.
Surprisingly, Dotson was cleared for the preseason’s final two games after offseason shoulder surgery. His impact was minimal, though, with three points in 10 minutes against New Orleans. This is a top candidate to not make the opening night rotation.
After playing just six minutes in the preseason, Ignas Brazdeikis is definitively on the outside of Fizdale’s group.
Fizdale played the Frenchman in the first three preseason games, before giving Payton and Smith a bigger stage in the finale. There are still questions on Ntilikina’s future, but he played like the Knicks’ best defender, including in crunchtime minutes against the Hawks, on Trae Young.
No game has featured all three point guards in the same game, however. That may go against Ntilikina if the others are prioritized.