HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Amar’e Stoudemire the list of names on the NBA’s walking wounded list is growing by the day.
Add New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler to that group of players whose availability for his team’s regular season opener next week is in doubt.
A collision with Gerald Wallace in the Knicks’ win over the Brooklyn Nets last night left Chandler on crutches after the game and in need of an MRI today to determine the severity of his injury. More from Ian Begley from ESPNNewYork.com on Chandler’s injury and the mounting injury issues the Knicks are facing right now:
“It was awkward,” Chandler said. “My foot was planted when he fell into me. It just torqued my knee outside a little bit. I kind of didn’t feel it until I started laying there.”
The team originally said Chandler’s injury was minor and he was held out of the game as a precaution.
If Chandler’s out for an extended period, it leaves a huge void for New York on the defensive end. Chandler, the reigning defensive player of the year, helped transform the Knicks into a top-10 defensive team last season, his first in New York.
Chandler’s injury further depletes a Knicks front line that is missing Marcus Camby (calf) and Amar’e Stoudemire (knee). Rasheed Wallace is not yet in playing shape. The only healthy option the Knicks have at center is reserve Kurt Thomas.
Guard/forward James White also left Wednesday’s game in the third quarter with a sore left foot. He appeared to be hobbled in the locker room but later wrote on Twitter that he’d be ready for the Knicks’ season opener.
Chandler’s injury is the latest in a long line for the Knicks this preseason.
J.R. Smith has sat out the past four preseason games with an Achilles injury, but the Knicks are optimistic he will practice Friday. Stoudemire is expected to miss two more weeks because of a ruptured cyst in his right knee.
The Knicks’ have a rugged schedule to start the season, so they need as many of their regulars back as soon as possible. The Knicks also have the added pressure of over the top expectations and the reintegration of several players into their mix that requires a little patience.
Toss in the fact that they are the oldest team in the league and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the pundits are taking a wait-and-see approach to this team.
“I was thinking about how old the Knicks were,” said ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach, during a Wednesday conference call. “Camby and Kurt Thomas played there when I was coaching there, and that’s like years ago … So they’re going to have to find their way. I do like the addition of Jason Kidd. I think he can play with [Raymond] Felton because he can guard 2s and he is a spot‑up shooter. Now he’s really developed his spot‑up shot as he’s lost some athleticism. But I think Felton obviously did not have a good year last year in Portland. By his own admission, he was out of shape. This year ‑‑ he played well with the Knicks previously when he was there.”
With a healthy frontcourt led by Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, Van Gundy believes they could be in line for a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. But he’s not necessarily ready to brand them championship-caliber contenders, at least not right now.
“But I think certainly they could be ‑‑ I don’t think they should count Boston ahead of them,” Van Gundy said. “I think they should have their eyes set on getting as high a seed as possible, and yet I don’t think there’s a guarantee that they’re a top four seed, either.”