The Knicks look to get their season back on track Wednesday night against ex-Knick David Lee and ascending Golden State, but the only big men that count to them are the ones who may or may not play.
The playing status of newly acquired power forward Kenyon Martin is still up in the air, as the veteran big man has only scrimmaged on a limited basis and gone through a few halfcourt sets since signing last week. Knicks head coach Mike Woodson was again noncommittal about Martin’s availability, although he sounded as if Martin won’t be ready yet for the Warriors.
“I don't know,” Woodson said about Martin playing. “He’s still trying to get acclimated to what we’re doing, so we’ll see.”
Another big man the Knicks could use is Marcus Camby, although the veteran may not be ready against the Warriors yet, either, and is more likely to finally suit up against the Wizards on Friday.
“Camby’s getting close,” Woodson said, acknowledging Wednesday is a long shot. “He scrimmaged a little today, so we've got to gauge it and see how he feels [Wednesday].”
Camby participated in his second scrimmage on Tuesday and has been practicing with the team for a week now. He hasn’t played since Jan. 10, as he’s been recovering from a sprained plantar fascia. The 38-year-old scrimmaged for the first time last Thursday in Toronto and experienced some swelling in his left foot, but if he responds well on Wednesday and gets through the team’s Thursday scrimmage, Woodson said it’s “likely” Camby will get the green light for the game against the Wizards. Camby has played only 14 games this season, averaging 2.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 11 minutes per game. But his real impact is his ability to eat up positive minutes when spelling Tyson Chandler, or even play in tandem to give the Knicks a real shot-blocking presence.
The Knicks have been shorthanded and undersized all season, so they should be used to this situation. But the Warriors possess a couple of bigs in the All-Star Lee and center Andrew Bogut, who are each capable of dominating the interior, so ideally Woodson would like one of the aforementioned shelved big men.
Golden State may run its offense through the guards, particularly Stephen Curry, but both Lee and Bogut have been instrumental in the pick-and-roll, which means the Knicks need more able big bodies.
Amar’e Stoudemire will be available, but don’t look for him to play a minute over 30, as Woodson acknowledged his cornerstone forward was put on the equivalent of a pitch count.
“He doesn’t need much more than that,” Woodson said. “STAT’s been in this league a number of years and he can get a lot done in 30 minutes. I think if he keeps his mind and body physically ready for it, 30 minutes is enough minutes for him to do damage. … I’m trying not to burn him early and then run out of minutes.’’
Stoudemire hasn't played more than 29 minutes in any game this season, as Woodson detailed the plan suggested to him by the training staff and team doctor. Whatever coach and training staff suggested, Stoudemire said he’s fine with any scenario and added he can be effective with a minutes-cap.
“I have no problem with that. I could be very productive in 30 minutes,” Stoudemire said. “That’s my motto — be as productive, aggressive and efficient in 30 minutes. I’m looking forward to it. Thirty minutes is OK with me. They understand what it takes to be successful. I’m going off their call. … As long as we’re winning, it’s not hard. [But] when we start losing a bit, it gets you thinking about it.’’
The Knicks and their faithful don't want to experience the latter. Otherwise, the Stoudemire “pitch count” could be more trouble than it’s worth.
» The Knicks just aren’t struggling with a lack of size, but their once-deadeye shooting has abandoned them lately as well. Jason Kidd in particular has seen his torrid start vanish. Prior to Jan. 26, the veteran guard’s field-goal efficiency rate was 58 percent. But in the 13 games since, it’s drastically dipped to 27 percent. Woodson wants him to keep shooting, though, and J.R. Smith agreed with that philosophy: “Shooters shoot, so, yeah, I agree. We’re still not really in our same rhythm as we all were before, but we have to keep putting up shots. … Hopefully we’ll make them in games and not just practices.”
» Woodson noted that one way to get out of a shooting rut is to get to the foul line. By doing so, said the coach, a player can relax, concentrate on the fundamentals of shooting since no one is defending the shot and simply focus on getting in a rhythm: “When jump shots aren’t falling, you need to find other ways to put points on the board. And one way is to get to the hole and sacrifice your body and get to the free-throw line.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.