The Knicks have their starting five set for Wednesday night's season opener against the Atlanta Hawks, but 2018 first-round pick Kevin Knox didn't make the cut.
On the court for tipoff at Madison Square Garden will be Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina, according to Mike Vorukunov of The Athletic.
David Fizdale was planning to start Knox after Friday's preseason finale against the Brooklyn Nets, but the Knicks' rookie coach has surprisingly opted to start Ntilikina at small forward after reviewing film and data, Vorkunov reported.
Fizdale said Ntilikina earned the starting spot and that it was important to reward him based on his performance in training camp and preseason, adding the decision will also provide a spark for Knox and help establish a culture for the team. (ESPN's Ian Begley)
"I went back into the lab, watched the film, looked at the numbers and really got into the coaches and I said, 'I really felt like Frank earned it," Fizdale said. "I feel like this will pride Kevin a little more and give him something to go after a little more and take it."
Knox, who shot just 32.6 percent in the preseason, said he has no problem with the move.
"I wasn't surprised, I didn't ask why. I'm just going to accept that challenge and accept what Coach wants me to do," Knox said. "Just to see that he's moving the starting lineups and now people gotta keep working hard ... it's going to motivate other guys to come off the bench and play harder."
Added Fizdale: "He's determined to get back to starting lineup. Don't think for one second he's taking it light. He understands how I operate in fairness and he's on baord with that."
Fizdale also said he sees Ntilikina and Burke as primary ball handlers in this lineup. Fizdale said Hardaway Jr. can perform in that role as well. (Begley)
Emmanuel Mudiay won't play Wednesday due to an ankle injury. (The Athletic)