Andrea Bargnani may come off the bench for Knicks

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Knicks head coach Mike Woodson envisioned Andrea Bargnani as a member of his starting lineup, someone who would cause matchup problems for his opponents that might struggle with how to defend the seven-footer who takes plenty of outside shots.

It’s been a slow process for Bargnani to adjust to both is new surroundings in New York as well as his new teammates. He’s struggled during the preseason, to the point where Woodson might not be able to trust him to play starter’s minutes just yet.

Woodson might not use regular season games to see if Bargnani is ready for that role, and may start Metta World Peace instead.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Carmelo Anthony repeated several times Saturday that Andrea Bargnani’s transformation as a defensive-minded Knick won’t “happen overnight.’’ However, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he won’t wait a long time for the 7-foot Italian to make it as full-time starting power forward.

If he has to change the big frontline of Tyson Chandler, Bargnani and Anthony by Wednesday’s season opener against Milwaukee, Woodson will. The obvious change would be to send Bargnani to the bench for small forward Metta World Peace. …

“I’ll experiment with [the big frontcourt], but I’ve got options this year,’’ Woodson said. “I can always go small, with Melo at the 4 with small teams and throw Bargnani in there when we got big teams. It’s not a matter of who starts, it’s what you do with the minutes that you’re in there. That’s the message I’m sending everybody on the team. You got to give productive minutes on the floor if you want to play.’’

That last part is a standard line from NBA head coaches — it doesn’t matter who starts the game, it matters who finishes it.

Most observers, however, disagreed with Woodson’s preference to try to pencil in Bargnani as a starter, mainly because it would send Carmelo Anthony to the small forward spot, when he was so effective playing the four last season.

Anyone who’s watched Bargnani over the past couple of seasons in Toronto won’t be at all surprised to hear he’s been struggling in his new environment. The Knicks will be patient, but they’ll need some level of production out of him, even as a reserve, to get where they want to go this season.