When Carmelo Anthony was asked whether Kenyon Martin deserves to remain in the Knicks’ starting lineup, even when Tyson Chandler is healthy enough to take the court again, Melo tried to dodge the issue with a little humor.
“I think Woody left,” Anthony said, referring to coach Mike Woodson, who in fact had left the Garden long before Anthony met with the media late Saturday after the Knicks completed a weekend sweep of the Raptors.
Turning serious on Martin’s future with the team, Anthony added: “I don’t deal with those topics.”
Martin’s return to the bench has become a major topic of conversation. In the six games he has spelled Chandler, who is recovering from neck and knee injuries and might not be able to play against the Celtics in Boston on Tuesday, he has made a strong case to be the team’s starting power forward. But it’s a foregone conclusion that he won’t be starting and the Knicks will not be going to a conventional frontcourt look for the remainder of the season.

It all comes down to Woodson’s vision of the team, and he clearly sees an advantage to leaving Anthony at power forward, even if the Knicks are smaller with Melo at the four, give up some rebounding and can be a subpar defensive team using that alignment. All that is true, but Woodson sees that Anthony is a difficult matchup for opponents, first and foremost. “I would like to keep Melo at the four,” he said.
It’s a done deal, with Woodson conceding he might have to change if the Knicks see a big front line in the playoffs, like Indiana’s. Whenever Chandler returns, he’s planning to send Martin back to the bench and will be content to go with the smaller lineup. That, despite Martin showing that he has put the eight months of inactivity behind him. He’s ably replaced the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, along with providing some scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rebounds pg) and nearly error-free basketball (two turnovers total) in almost 30 minutes a game as a starter. “He’s a major plus for our ballclub,” Woodson said.