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Last night the New York Knicks lost a double overtime thriller, 123-120, to the Toronto Raptors. The loss takes the Knicks preseason record to 2-3. There are only 2 preseason games left. The Knicks will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, and then play their first game — in the newly renovated Madison Square Garden — on Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats.
The preseason may be coming to an end, but the Knicks still have issues to resolve before they open the season on October 30th.
Who makes the roster?
C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler
The Knicks have 12 players signed to guaranteed contracts, 2 of whom are signed to partially guaranteed contracts in Jeremy Tyler and C.J. Leslie. If the Knicks cut Leslie they will owe him $200,000 in guaranteed money. Tyler would be guaranteed $100,000 if the Knicks decided to cut him. Leslie has struggled and coach Mike Woodson has indicated the NBA game seems to fast for him. Tyler stood out in the Summer League, but will miss the entire preseason with a toe injury. Leslie will most likely be sent to the D-League. Tyler’s 6-foot-10 frame could be valuable to the Knicks if they decide to keep and develop him.
Powell, Aldrich, or Diogu?
It looks like Diogu has a roster spot locked up. The 6’8″ forward is undersized, but he has shown an ability to rebound effectively. In addition to his performance in previous games, Diogu scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in last night’s loss to the Raptors. Powell has performed well in spots, but has been inconsistent. Aldrich, on the other hand, has been nonexistent. He seems to have been eliminated from the competition after not getting any minutes again last night. The Knicks hoped he would be more physical, but it never happened. The Knicks would like to keep one of the three. The front runner is Ike Diogu, but Powell still has an outside shot depending on what the Knicks do with Jeremy Tyler.
At the beginning of training camp it looked like a long shot for Murry to make the roster. The Knicks are loaded at both guard positions, but Murry may add to the guard depth. Murry has likely played his way into a roster spot. Murry has been aggressive on offense, averaging 14 points the last three games, but his defense is what makes him valuable. At 6-foot-5 Murry’s length makes him a pesky defender. If Murry makes the roster he will bolster the Knicks perimeter defense.
Chris Smith and Chris Douglas-Roberts
Chris Smith will likely not make the Knicks roster. Mike Woodson chose not to play him last night. Smith has only played 20 minutes the entire preseason. For now, it looks like Smith’s hope of playing with his older brother J.R. will have to wait. Douglas-Roberts is in the same situation, having only played 24 minutes the entire preseason. The former Memphis guard is unlikely to make the Knicks roster.
Will the Knicks be healthy by the opener?
Raymond Felton (hamstring), Pablo Prigioni (flulike symptoms), and Iman Shumpert (right elbow) all sat out of last night’s preseason game. All three of the players injuries are not serious, but it would be a positive if they could start the season not dealing with health concerns. Kenyon Martin (ankle), A’mare Stoudemire (knee) and JR Smith (knee surgery) scrimmaged for the first time today. Smith said he expects to play in the preseason finale against the Bobcats. This is a good sign for the Knicks, because if Smith is healthy enough to play he can immediately begin serving his five game suspension once the season begins. Mike Woodson said that Martin and Stoudemire would not play in the preseason finale. It is unclear when either player will return, but Stoudemire has said he aims to be ready for the opener.
It has been an interesting preseason for the Knicks. Two preseason games are left, but the real season is just over a week away. On October 30th, we will get to see how the Knicks compete in games where the end result matters.