<
>

Opening Tip: Knicks' playoff rotation

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: What should the Knicks' playing rotation be in the postseason?

Coaches like to shorten their rotations in order to maximize their best players' time on the court in the playoffs.

That's one of the biggest reasons why Mike Woodson has decided to rest Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton for the final two games of the regular season. Those three players could play upwards of 35 to 40 minutes per game once the playoffs start. Melo could be even higher.

With that said, Woodson is going to have to leave a couple of players out of the mix. So who will that be?

For starters, the first five will likely stay put, consisting of Pablo Prigioni, Felton, Iman Shumpert, Anthony and Tyson Chandler. And the first guys off the bench will include Smith, Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Kenyon Martin.

That leaves Chris Copeland, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, James White and Quentin Richardson wondering for now.

Woodson would like to play Wallace for his interior defense and pick-and-pop 3-point shooting ability, but a sore left foot has resurfaced. And Camby is still dealing with left plantar fasciitis.

That opens a bigger window for Copeland and Richardson, who would arguably be needed more to step in the flow of the Knicks' small-ball offense. If Chandler and Martin are consistently healthy, Woodson may not need much of Wallace or Camby. In fact, when Camby was healthy a few weeks ago, the coach chose not to play him.

An interesting subplot could be Novak and Copeland battling it out for minutes. While both players are still developing defenders, Copeland has proven not only to be an effective quick-release 3-point shooter like Novak, but also a much more versatile scorer. In addition, Copeland gives the Knicks another post-up option and free-throw threat besides Anthony -- Amar'e Stoudemire is still sidelined -- which could be helpful in more half-court-oriented playoff games.

Overall, Woodson's playoff rotation could go 11 deep, with Copeland and Richardson playing limited minutes early on. But as the coach said Tuesday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, that could change during a game.

"We do have a lot of perimeter guys, but my thing has always been whoever plays, you've got to make the most out of your minutes," he said. "And if we get somebody in the game that's struggling a little bit, then maybe I can turn to Quentin ... to get it done. That's the reason for bringing him to our ball club."

What do you think the playoff rotation should be? Leave us your comments below.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.