Felton to play Sunday, Stoudemire to continue bench role
Felton will see a doctor on Friday to get the final clearance for his return to game-action, but he's considered a lock to play unless something freakish pops up. Felton will return to the starting lineup averaging 15.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.2 steals on the season.
Head coach Mike Woodson says that with Felton's return, and the recent return of shooting guard Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd will be moved to a bench role. That leaves the lineup with four obvious starters: Felton, Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. That leaves one spot to fill, and with Melo able to play both the three and four spot, the Knicks can round out their starting five with either a small forward or power forward.
The first thought for many is probably that this is a good time to insert Amare Stoudemire back into the starting lineup, playing power forward between Melo and Chandler. However, Woodson has other ideas. Marc Berman of the New York Post tweeted on Friday that Woodson seems content with Amare coming off the bench for the "foreseeable future." James White is expected to get the start at small forward on Saturday.
Amare had his best game of the season on Thursday night against the Celtics, scoring 15 points (4-7 shooting) with nine rebounds and two blocked shots in only 20 minutes. He also looked to have regained a lot of the explosiveness we were used to seeing when he was healthy. Despite Amare's progress, the fact that he's embracing his bench role allows Carmelo to continue getting extended time at the four spot, where he's been most effective this season.
You have to give Amare, who signed with the Knicks as the new face of the franchise less than three years ago, a ton of credit for taking a backseat and accepting a smaller role to benefit the team. That's what has gotten this team to where it is this season - players willing to do whatever is best for the team, be ready when called upon, and not complain.
Your New York Knicks starting lineup, for now, is Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, James White, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler, with JR Smith, Jason Kidd, and Amare Stoudemire factoring in heavily off the bench.