Last Friday’s preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats came with a very pleasant surprise for New York Knicks fans. Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin had previously been held out of most scrimmages due to knee issues and had missed the entire preseason up to that point. Both of them played on Friday and they looked comfortable moving around the court and drawing contact. STAT looked a little rusty initially, but he picked up three nice buckets in his 12 minutes of play, which is about as much as he’ll be expected to play in regular season games in the early going. K-Mart moved well defensively and seemed to be his usual physical self.
Better yet, J.R. Smith played in his first preseason game and he seems to have regained his quickness following offseason knee surgery. While he’s still suspended for the first five games of the year, his recovery is great news and will decrease their reliance on rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
Raymond Felton‘s minor hamstring injury caused a bit of worry, but he looked unencumbered driving into the lane and dishing to teammates. Andrea Bargnani seems to have improved his conditioning quite a bit since his bout with pneumonia, and of course Tyson Chandler has gotten healthier since last year’s playoffs and has even added a bit of extra muscle to help him fight in the low post.
All of this means the Knicks will be entering the regular season with more or less their entire roster available, giving Mike Woodson a huge variety of lineup options. With a team full of players deserving minutes, the biggest challenges will be to juggle their playing time and to figure out which units are most effective.