Who really deserves to start on the Knicks front line? Stoudemire, for sure. Randolph, no.

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Anthony Randolph was the Knicks big get in the David Lee trade — a 6’10” guy who can run the floor and play anywhere from the three to the five. A guy whose athleticism was bottled up by Don Nelson but was to be unleashed by Mike D’Antoni. He was going to explode past his 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as his minutes climbed in New York. He was going to make the Knicks front line dynamic.

So far, not so much. It’s just two preseason games but Randolph has looked inefficient and pedestrian enough that he will start the season coming off the bench, according to the New York Post.

So far this preseason (all of two games) Randolph has averaged 15 points and 3 rebounds per game, shooting 45.5 percent (which is right about what he shot in Golden State). His midrange shot he worked on a lot this summer has clanked around.

Randolph’s play — and Ronny Turiaf’s play and Timofey Mozgov’s play —  has left the Knicks with issues about who to play where along the front line.

D’Antoni wanted to play Amar’e Stoudemire exclusively at the power forward spot, but after a few weeks of camp Howard Beck of the New York Times told Knickerblogger that may have to change.

In Phoenix, the Suns were widely successful with Amar’e as their so-called undersized/non-traditional center, and I don’t know why the Knicks can’t be successful as well. I think they have to (try) a banger/traditional center next to Amar’e to help him out and keep him out of foul trouble. But I think there is a lot of merit of playing it the Suns way – which is go undersized at every position and just outrun the other team up and down the court. You know there are only a few true centers who are scoring centers in the league anyway, so it’s not as if Amar’e Stoudemire is going to just sit there every night and get banged on by low-post/back-you-down centers.

If D’Antoni starts Stoudemire at the four, and Danilo Galinari at the three, then who is the center?

Timofey Mozgov is going to get his chance, starting tonight, but coming out of the more physical play allowed in Europe and international ball he has been a foul sponge, soaking them up everywhere. Matched up against Shaq tonight will be a real test for him.

But he is the best fit because he can do the things the Knicks need — he can rebound, he can hit the midrange jumper to open up space for Stoudemire on the block, and he can block shots.

Randolph should be doing all those things, but right now Mozgov is doing them all better. Turiaf should be the energy guy off the bench wherever he goes. Wilson Chandler will come off the bench and be solid (but if you move Stoudemire to center he could start). But Randolph, you see where he could be more than that. Where he could be special.

But right now, Randolph is a bench guy.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.