Wednesday, November 6, 2013
How Knicks will fill Chandler void
By Ian Begley
Things went from bad to worse for the Knicks on Wednesday morning.
A little more than 12 hours after losing to the Bobcats to fall to 1-3, the team discovered it likely will be without Tyson Chandler for four to six weeks due to a small non-displaced fracture in the big man's right fibula.
Here's what Chandler's injury means for the Knicks:
How will the Knicks fill the void left by Tyson Chandler's injury?
Does the defense rest? It goes without saying that Chandler is the backbone of the Knicks' defense. For some perspective, here's a stat: In 106 minutes with Chandler on the court, the Knicks had allowed 92.2 points per 100 possessions. With Chandler off the floor, that number jumped to 105.6 -- a difference of 13.2 points per 100 possessions.
Chandler played through various injuries late last season, but he seemed to be healthy early on this season. The 2011-2012 Defensive Player of the Year averaged 7.3 points and 9.0 rebounds through the first four games. He had a 19-rebound, four-block night last week against Chicago.
"He's a big piece of what we do," a somber coach Mike Woodson said late Tuesday night.
Who fills the void? The first name that comes to mind is Kenyon Martin. The Knicks have taken a cautious approach with him thus far. The 35-year-old is dealing with lingering pain in his left ankle, the result of an injury he suffered in April.
Woodson may ask Martin to start at center. Can Martin handle the increase in minutes? The 13-year veteran has said in recent days that his ankle is a non-issue and he can handle playing as many minutes as Woodson asks of him.
"They brought me back for a reason," Martin said. "I'm good, I'm ready."
Woodson also can lean on center Cole Aldrich. The 6-11 Aldrich, a former lottery pick, made the team out of training camp but has yet to play in the regular season.
Can New York add another big? The Knicks have 15 players on their roster, so they'd have to release someone if they chose to sign a free agent. Woodson and his staff liked what they saw from forward Ike Diogu in training camp, and were high on young big man Jeremy Tyler during the summer. But they cut both and decided to keep guards Chris Smith and Toure' Murry and Aldrich instead.
The 6-8 Diogu is a free agent. Tyler, who is 6-11, recently was acquired by the Knicks' D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. He is coming off of foot surgery and isn't believed to be ready to contribute right away. The Knicks also could look to add a free-agent big man such as Earl Barron, Hilton Armstrong or Desgana Diop. But again, they'd still have to cut a player to make room.
More Melo? With their defensive leader out, the Knicks are going to need more from every player on the roster. That starts with their leader, Carmelo Anthony. He has struggled with his shot so far, scoring 23.8 points per game on just 37.1 percent shooting.
In a strange twist, some believe Chandler's injury may be a blessing in disguise for Anthony's offense.
With Chandler out, Woodson likely will go with a smaller lineup featuring Anthony at power forward, which he did with great success, scoring an NBA-high 28.7 points per game while playing primarily at the 4 spot.
This season, Anthony has started at small forward in three games. Woodson had been going with a bigger starting lineup featuring Bargnani at power forward and Iman Shumpert at shooting guard.
Will the Chandler injury force Anthony back to power forward? Only Woodson knows.
Tough schedule: The Knicks have several challenging games in the next six weeks. They play the Spurs, Rockets, Pacers and Bulls at home and have road games against the Clippers, Nuggets and Nets. They play Atlanta three times and Washington twice. So at least 12 of those 19 games figure to be against quality opponents.