Twitter Mailbag: The return of J.R.

Welcome to our weekly Twitter Mailbag, where I take questions from you all on Twitter and answer them in this space. This week, we discuss the return of J.R. Smith, the ripple effects of the Tyson Chandler injury and more.

Hey Matthew, this is a great question. In a perfect world, I think Woodson would like to play Kenyon Martin against bigger teams and save Amar'e Stoudemire for smaller front lines. This would allow the Knicks to have Kenyon Martin to help rebound and protect the rim against the Chicagos, Brooklyns and Indianas of the league.

But because the Knicks are without Tyson Chandler for an extended period of time, I think Woodson has to use both guys as often as possible, regardless of the opponent.

He was prepared to use both on Friday against Charlotte in the Knicks first game without Chandler. And he will have both available against the Spurs on Sunday. In short, with Tyson out, I don't think Woodson can afford to mix and match with his veteran power forwards.

Hey what's up Laker Fanatic, I don't think you can realistically put the Knicks ahead of Miami or Indiana right now, do you? New York seems to be coming together on offense but with Chandler out, they are not in the same league as the Heat or Pacers on defense.

I'd put them in the second tier of Eastern Conference teams along with Brooklyn. But I think even the most ardent Knicks supporter wouldn't call his/her team a contender right now.

And I don't see them developing into legitimate contenders this season.

I could be wrong, though. Anything can happen as the year progresses, of course. If the Knicks continue to jell on offense and get Chandler back in a timely fashion, and Miami, Chicago, Indiana or Brooklyn suffers a serious injury, I think people could begin to talk about the Knicks as contenders. But that's a long ways away.

Hey Dishin,

I think you might see the Knicks go to a zone with Bargnani at center but I didn't see much of it on Friday in Charlotte. However, I do think it's fair to expect the Knicks to trap the opposing ball handler throughout Chandler's absence. This, of course, can make it more difficult to attack the paint. This is important for the Knicks because once that lead guard gets in the paint, he will have a much easier time scoring or setting up his teammates with Chandler out.

Regarding the zone, I think Woodson may go to it at times to help Bargnani. He seems to be an anti-zone coach but he did use it occasionally last season. I remember a few times in particular against Boston where Woodson went to a zone when Stoudemire shared the floor with Steve Novak.

Hey Verts, I was kind of surprised that the Knicks initially decided to stand pat in the wake of Chandler's injury. I think that they may change course if things don't go well with Bargnani and/or Cole Aldrich or if they can't use K-Mart or STAT as much as they'd like to.

It should be noted, though, that there aren't any free agents out there who will make much of an impact. But bringing in a guy like Earl Barron or Lou Amundson -- provided they are healthy -- could certainly help them against bigger, deeper front lines. But neither guy is going to significantly move the needle for New York.

I know some have reported that James Dolan doesn't want to add anyone because the luxury tax bill associated with another contract is prohibitive. But we're talking about an owner who ate the guaranteed money he gave to C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler. So if there is a player out there who can help the Knicks, I don't think Dolan would decline to sign that player because of the luxury tax.

Hey Dan, I think Tim Hardaway Jr. will be most impacted by J.R.'s return. Hardaway Jr. has played 21 minutes a night through five games. He played 25 and 27 minutes in two games last week. With Smith back in the fold, I don't see how Woodson can play the first-round pick more than 10-15 minutes a night unless he plays Hardaway Jr. or Smith at small forward in a two-point guard lineup.

Another player who could be impacted by Smith's return is Iman Shumpert. Smith will come off the bench on Sunday in his season debut, but I think Woodson will eventually move Smith to be in the starting lineup. This would relegate Shumpert to the bench.

And, obviously, It would be tough for Shumpert to play 31 minutes per night (his current average) while coming off the bench.

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