- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Did the Knicks make a mistake in filling their roster out with older players?
Back in October, someone asked Knicks GM Glen Grunwald about the risk in signing five players age 35 and older to fill out the Knicks’ roster.
"We don't think we got older," Grunwald said. "We feel we got more experienced and better."
State of the veteran Knicks
It was hard to argue that point during the Knicks’ 18-5 start. But now, with a large portion of the Knicks’ elder statesman on the disabled list or battling nagging injuries, it’s fair to question Grunwald’s strategy.
The Knicks are 21-21 since that hot start and have been besieged by injuries as they enter the home stretch of their schedule.
In addition to Thomas and Wallace out, Tyson Chandler is sidelined with a neck injury, Amar’e Stoudemire is out following right knee surgery and Carmelo Anthony is questionable due to a right knee injury.
Now, injuries are a part of sports and there’s no way to say with any certainty that the Knicks would've been healthier had they signed younger players.
But one leading orthopedic surgeon isn’t exactly surprised by the injuries to the Knicks’ older players.
"The issue with any type of impact activity ... is just the continued presentation of stress (on the body) day after day," says Neil Roth, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital specializing in sports medicine and knee and shoulder surgeries. "You need time to recover from all this and I think that, as the players age, the ability to recover as quickly as they used to, 10 years ago, when they were in their 20s, has an impact on them and you start to break down."
That’s what’s happened with the older Knicks, says Roth, who previously worked as an assistant team physician with the Lakers.
The veteran Knicks' wear and tear injuries are signs of overuse for a player who can't handle the workload in his advanced age.
The bones, joints, muscles and ligaments of older players do not respond as well to the nightly pounding the body takes during an NBA season.
So older players can suffer a systemic breakdown because muscles aren’t able to recover as quickly and joints and ligaments can’t handle the subsequent stress placed on the body, Roth says.
Hence, the stress reaction/stress fractures that Thomas and Wallace are suffering through and the nagging foot injuries that Camby’s dealt with.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that none of the older players the Knicks signed were being counted on to play big minutes. But with the current health of Mike Woodson’s club, it’s natural to wonder if they’d have been better off signing younger bodies.
Question: What do you think?Did the Knicks make a mistake in filling their roster with older players?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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16dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford