The Knicks have a habit of subtracting a player just as they add one back to the rotation.
Just as point guard Raymond Felton is making his return to the starting lineup, the 39-year-old Jason Kidd is suffering back issues again. Kidd didn’t finish the Atlanta game on Sunday after experiencing lower back stiffness at halftime, and also didn’t practice with the team Tuesday, as head coach Mike Woodson gave him a “maintenance day.”
“I beat Jason up early on this season, and again when Raymond went out, but know Jason is a big part of what we’re trying to do here,” said Woodson. “This is a marathon, so I’m going to need him for the long haul and I think he knows that … and if not I’ll tell him that repeatedly.”
Woodson is holding out hope Kidd will play Wednesday night, but in case he’s not able to go, James White was seen running sets with the first team.
Kidd, who didn’t make himself available to the media Tuesday, is still looked upon as “a big part of the puzzle,” said Woodson.
“I’ll still play Kidd his minutes, but he’s going to be my guide to basically let me [dictate how I] steer him,” Woodson said. “If he tells me, ‘Hey, you need to back off,’ I’m going to back off. Jason is a big piece of this puzzle and I need him when it counts — and that’s coming down the home stretch.”
The Knicks have been fortunate to be so deep, as they’ve weathered any injury so far. Whether it was Amar’e Stoudemire missing the first two months of the season, or Carmelo Anthony missing a few games due to injury or suspension, New York has managed to thrive. That’s a small wonder considering Woodson hasn’t had his entire 15-man roster available at the same time this season, and in fact, the team’s top seven rotational players have only appeared in two games together.
» Tyson Chandler (neck) and Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) were also given “maintenance days.” Both will likely play Wednesday, noted Woodson, adding that Tuesday’s rest was just precautionary measures for two guys who are basically the Knicks’ only interior presence.
»Woodson said “that’s news to me” when informed that it’s believed Chandler initially hurt his neck on Jan. 10 against the Pacers. But even though the coach feigned shock, it wouldn’t be the first time the Knicks weren’t totally on the up-and-up about injuries.
This is the same franchise that strung along everyone when it pertained to Stoudemire’s knee during training camp. The Knicks continued to list him as day-to-day despite needing a knee debridement procedure. The Knicks have also continued to list Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot) as day-to-day when Wallace has come out and said he’s suffering from a stress reaction. While Wallace scoffs that this recurring injury may lead to another retirement, he is frustrated that it’s now approaching seven weeks since he last played on Dec. 15.
The Knicks have also practiced cloak-and-dagger procedures when it’s come to Kidd in the past, as even when he missed four straight games in November due to back spasms, Woodson kept saying that Kidd was a game-time decision — even though Kidd wasn’t able to even travel across the river with the team to Brooklyn.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.