NEW YORK – As the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to 13 games on Tuesday, they extended their list of injured big men to six.
Six is the number of big men the Knicks have on their roster, by the way.
Early in the fourth quarter of an easy win over the Washington Wizards, Kenyon Martin went down a sprained left ankle. Martin (who was previously dealing with a sore knee) joined Marcus Camby (foot), Tyson Chandler (neck), Amar’e Stoudemire (knee surgery), Kurt Thomas (foot) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) on the list of (old) injured bigs in New York.
The only one of the true bigs who could possibly play in Chicago on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT) is Camby. But most likely, Carmelo Anthony will be the starting center against the Bulls, who are still without Joakim Noah.
And a little bit of attrition is probably a good thing for New York. Since they traded for Anthony two years ago, they’ve simply been a better team without Stoudemire than they’ve been with him. It’s fair to assume that they’d be better off if Stoudemire didn’t come back this season from his most recent knee injury.
Chandler and Martin are another story. Both are known for their defense, but the Knicks’ one-big offense has been at its best when the one big is one of those two guys.
Knicks efficiency with one big on the floor
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Beyond Chandler, the sample sizes are small. And both Chandler (76 percent) and Martin (57 percent) have benefited – meaning their offensive numbers have benefited – from playing most of their minutes with Anthony.
Still, Chandler and Martin have brought something to the table. Chandler is the perfect example of how you don’t need post moves to be a good offensive center. He rolls hard to the basket, finishing strong and drawing help defenders from the perimeter, which creates space for the Knicks’ shooters. And while Chandler would rank second in the league in field goal percentage if he had enough shots, Martin has actually finished better than Chandler in his short time with the Knicks, shooting 48-for-61 (79 percent) in the restricted area.
And obviously, both guys give New York, a below-average defensive team, some sort of presence inside on that end of the floor.
So the injuries to both Chandler and Martin have to be a serious concern with the playoffs just nine days away. Woodson called Martin’s ankle sprain “severe” on Tuesday. Chandler, meanwhile, returned for just four games before his bulging disc flared up again. Woodson said that his center would be playing if it was playoff time, but back/neck issues don’t go away easily and Chandler at less than 100 percent certainly compromises the Knicks’ chances of winning games and series in the postseason.
HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Oklahoma City, Memphis and Miami, feel fortunate, very fortunate, and proceed with caution.
As the regular season churns down to a handful of games over these final 16 days, the three teams above are the only ones of the 16 current playoff teams, plus the desperately-trying-to-get-in Los Angeles Lakers, currently unaffected by injury — or injuries.
Playoff seeding, and ultimately playoff series, could tilt on an injury report that seems to grow with each passing game.
The Grizzlies caught a break with the quick return of center Marc Gasol from an abdomen injury. Initially the team listed him as out “indefinitely.” Later, Gasol said he’d be back for the playoffs. Next thing you know he’s back after missing just two games and right back on his game.
The Heat missed Dwyane Wade for a couple games during their win streak and, of course, he, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers came down with those, ahem, previously unreported injuries prior to Sunday’s game at San Antonio. Speaking of the Spurs, Manu Ginobili‘s most recent ill-timed injury (hamstring) has put the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed firmly in play Thursday night when San Antonio visits a Thunder team as healthy as any can be 70-something games in.
Few are so fortunate, and let’s start with the carousel of injuries that have beset the Lakers. Kobe Bryant continues to play through a sprained ankle and whatever else, Dwight Howard still deals with the sporadic shooting pain from the torn labrum in his shoulder and Pau Gasol is finally back. But Metta World Peace (knee) won’t be back and Steve Nash (hip) is “doubtful” for tonight’s big showdown against the never-say-die Dallas Mavericks (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
The Lakers won’t receive sympathy cards from Denver, which could be without spark plug point guard Ty Lawson (heel) until the playoffs. As soon as Chauncey Billups (groin) finally returned he was gone again, and couldn’t the sinking Clippers use him right about now?
Houston’s All-Star James Harden can’t seem to shake a sprained right ankle. Jazz reserve big man Enes Kanter (shoulder), whose March was his biggest month of the season, is out indefinitely. Golden State is essentially healthy, having lost Brandon Rush way back in the opening days of the season.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls shake their heads at any team ruffled by a single injury, or two. The Celtics, having adjusted to life without Rajon Rondo, plus rookie Jared Sullinger are without Kevin Garnett (ankle) and Paul Pierce missed Monday’s loss at Minnesota for “personal reasons,” according to coach Doc Rivers. Meanwhile, Boston is dangerously close to slipping into eighth place and a first-round matchup against the Heat.
In the Big Apple, the injury list goes on and on: Tyson Chandler (neck) remains wait-and-see, Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) and Kurt Thomas (foot), very likely could join Rasheed Wallace (foot) as being shut down for the season. The Knicks, busting through it all with an eight-game win streak, continue to battle for the No. 2 seed with the Indiana Pacers, who have five straight and learned last week that Danny Granger (knee) won’t be making the late-season comeback they had expected just days earlier.
And those scrappy, scrappy Bulls by now must be resigned to a full season without Derrick Rose (knee), and they may have lost Rip Hamilton (back) for the season. They hope to soon get center Joakim Noah (foot) back in uniform, as well as Marco Belinelli (abdomen).
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets, finally with Deron Williams healthy and playing like an All-Star again, would love to say the same about Joe Johnson (heel).
As the playoffs quickly approach, time is running short for players and teams to get healthy.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: It was pick-a-wild-finish night in the NBA after the thrilling endings to Heat-Cavs, Celtics-Hornets and Thunder-Grizz. We liked the finishes of all three — how could you not like the frantic action in Cleveland? — but our pick goes to the grit-and-grind guys in Memphis. The mostly unappreciated (by non-League Pass fiends) Marc Gasol came up with a big bucket in OT to seal the win (although, if you’re an OKC fan, you might have thought there was a little push-off going on there) after Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook seemed to vanquish the Grizz time after time in the fourth quarter. Our guy Zach Randolph struggled (thanks to killer down-the-stretch defense from Nick Collison), but Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless provided some smart guard play to offset Z-Bo’s absence in what was a playoff-type game through and through.
Round of ‘H-O-R-S-E’ gets Lin going — Entering Wednesday night’s showdown with the Jazz in Houston, Jeremy Lin had been hot, averaging 16.7 ppg, 5.2 apg and shooting 52 percent. But he was a bit worn down from the season’s grind and Alicia Keys taking over the Toyota Center, Lin headed to a different court and played a few rounds of H-O-R-S-E with his brother, who was visiting him. The light-hearted game obviously helped as Lin torched Utah for 24 points and six assists (most of which coming out of the pick-and-roll) as Houston got a big win to help its playoff hopes. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has more:
With a day off and orders to clear his mind, Jeremy Lin took the opportunity to head to the gym.
He did change things up a bit. With Alicia Keys taking over Toyota Center, Lin found a different court and a few different teammates. But Lin’s idea of a day off included basketball.
“It’s therapeutic,” he said.
After Sunday’s 30-point loss to Golden State, he and the Rockets needed the therapy, so Lin spent a chunk of Monday launching jumpers and playing HORSE.
When the Rockets reconvened at Toyota Center on Wednesday, Lin spent the night as if still goofing with his brother and buddies far from the cameras and lights. He repeatedly pierced the Utah Jazz defense, helping to drive the Rockets to a 26-point lead. And when the Jazz rallied in the fourth quarter, Lin knifed through them again, with one drive to a layup and another and a pass for a Chandler Parsons dunk that finally closed out the Jazz 100-93.
Lin made eight of nine shots in the paint as the Rockets went from launching 3-pointers to beating the Jazz at the rim, and from a series of slow starts to a rapid bolt from the opening tip that set the tone for the game.
“JLin made them pay,” Parsons said. “He’s a good player, especially in pick-and-roll. He’s fast. … He can get in the paint.”
“Jeremy really attacked the rim well,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I thought that Jeremy made some big hoops coming down the stretch when we needed them. They were really intent on staying with James (Harden) in the second half and really not giving him a lot of room, so Jeremy really broke free. Jeremy kept turning the corner and got in the paint. We needed all of those.”
“Sometimes, when you do that, you get the feel of the joy of the game back in you again,” Lin said of his day off in the gym. “I went and shot. My little brother is in town. My buddy is here. We just went out and messed around, played some HORSE. But we didn’t get to finish because other people started playing. Everyone had S.”
Karl amazed by Nuggets’ revival — Nuggets coach George Karl is the man with whom former Denver star Carmelo Anthony experienced his greatest NBA successes as well as some of his biggest letdowns, particularly in the playoffs. It’s hard to believe, but it has been more than two years since Denver sent Anthony to New York for a package of players that included Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and others. At the time, it looked like the Nuggets were embracing a full-scale rebuild, but Karl has kept Denver competitive and, this season, the Nuggets are one of the Western Conference elite and sport a 13-game win streak. Karl talked with USA Today’s Sam Amick about the Nuggets rise, the post-’Melo era and more in a solid Q&A:
Q. So you having fun yet?
A. You know, in coaching you don’t ever really have that joyful fun, but there’s no question that it’s enjoyable. It’s winning. And when you win and you’ve lost, what, four games in 60 days or something like that, it’s nice not having the headache of that day of losing. In the NBA, you win, and you think you’re going to win tomorrow. But as soon as you lose, you don’t think you’re ever going to win again.
Q. Are you as surprised as most people are with how quickly your franchise recovered from the Anthony deal?
A. I definitely think that the speed that we’ve built ourselves back into being a contender in the Western Conference has surprised me. We have one player on the team that played with Melo. The Melo trade was, what, two years ago in February? And you have to remember that one of those years was a lockout year. So probably the team has only played together less than 100 games … And then you had the Nene trade last year. Nene was another piece that we changed up. That was kind of the final addition that “we’re going to go with young players.” During the year, we played Kosta (Koufos) and Timo (Timofey Mosgov) a lot more than we played Bird (Chris Andersen) and Nene. We turned it over to all the young guys. The team has evolved. It’s worked hard. It has stayed focused … My team even last year always thought they could play with the big boys. Now that they have the consistency to play an 82-game season together and show that they’re good enough, that’s what we’re doing this year.
Q. Has your longevity and success allowed you to have a wall up between you and the fires that coaches are always putting out or is that still always there?
A. I don’t think there’s any question that I don’t think young coaches can maybe take the risks that I take. But in the same sense, I think my staff and I work very hard on explaining what we’re doing. And we have no problem with a player wanting to play, and we have no problem answering a question of why you’re not playing — in fact we encourage it, we like it, we want players to want to play, we want them to be angry when they’re not playing, but we don’t want them to degrade the team or negate the team (with) a negative attitude during the game or during practice or in the locker room. Do that one on one with me, do that one on one with (general manager) Masai (Ujiri), do that one on one with my assistants, and let’s talk this through. I try to tell players all the time — I’m 61 years old. It’s not personal man. I mean this is not personal. I’m past the time when I’m making a personal decision. I’m making a basketball decision based on who is playing well, who is playing hard, and who is more focused and more disciplined on that given night.
Q. That record is good enough at this point to have your group be in the discussion about title contention. I know that’s not where your head is at this point, but how do you see this idea that this deep and balanced group can take it to that level?
A. My first step is to get this team to win in the first round. And then, once you win in the first round, there’s confidence. Coach (Tim) Grgurich (formerly a longtime Seattle SuperSonics and Denver assistant) have talked about how this team responds me a little of my first full year in Seattle (in 1992-93). I think we played Utah in the first round, beat them in a Game 5 in the first round. We were down 2-1 in that series, and could’ve lost in Utah in Game 4. But we won Game 4 — that made us grow up. We won Game 5 in a really crazy game. I think it’s actually a record, where in the same game we had the lowest scoring half and the highest scoring half for a SuperSonic basketball team (the Sonics scored 30 points in the first half and 70 in the second half) … And that whole momentum of learning to win in that series, and then we took Houston to a seven-game series and beat them in overtime (in Game 5). It was really one of those weird series, where we won at home easy and they won at home easy and Game 7 was an overtime game. We won that game, and then we play Phoenix and we’re growing up right in front of ourselves (the Sonics lost to the Suns in seven games in the Western Conference Finals). You could see the confidence happen.
Now can we do that this year with this group? I think we can. I hope we can. I really think we can. That’s where I want to put this team. I want to put them in that place, the best chance possible to win a first round (series), and then see where our confidence goes from there.
Teague steps up against Bucks — Milwaukee boasts one of the more explosive backcourt combinations in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, with Ellis hot of late after a 25-point fourth quarter that helped the Bucks to a comeback win over the Magic. Hawks guard Jeff Teague has quietly established himself as one of the more solid guards in the East and took the challenge of playing against Jennings and Ellis to heart on Wednesday night, particularly with playoff positioning between the Hawks and Bucks on the line. Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details just how Teague stepped it up against Milwaukee:
Teague finished with 27 points and 11 assists as the Hawks held off the Bucks 98-90 at Philips Arena in a key Eastern Conference game. It was one point shy of Teague’s season- and career-high point total.
The Hawks (38-30) won for the fourth time in five games and kept hold of the fifth spot in the conference playoff race.
Teague was challenged by Player Development Instructor Nick Van Exel at halftime to pick up his energy and play. The guard responded with 12 points in a decisive third quarter.
“C’mon,” is what Teague said Van Exel simply told him. “Me and him a little way we talk to each other. I knew what he meant.”
The Bucks (34-33) had a two-game win streak snapped. They lost for the ninth time in the past 10 games at Philips Arena. Jennings finished with 21 points but Ellis had just five. Larry Sanders had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks.
“Not letting them get in a rhythm,” Devin Harris said of the success against the guard combination. “Obviously, Jennings did that a little in the third and the fourth (quarters). We try to take away easy baskets. Don’t let them getting any open looks. They run a lot of stuff off each other and (Teague and I) are able to switch and keep them in front of us.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the early going with the game tied 18-18 after the first quarter. The Hawks shot 30 percent (6 of 20) and the Bucks shot 25 percent (8 of 32). The Hawks made 12 of 19 shots in the second quarter to push to the lead at intermission.
Ellis and Jennings combined to make just 2 of 14 shots for four points in the first two quarters.
“I don’t get caught up in that,” Teague said of the challenge of the Bucks’ duo. “I just go out and play. They are talented players. They do what they are supposed to do for their team. I just try to help my team.”
Shumpert scared by knee pop – The good news for the Knicks last night? Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup and New York romped past a downtrodden Magic squad. The (possible) bad news for the Knicks? Iman Shumpert heard a pop in his knee — the same knee he had surgery on and that caused him to miss much of the early part of the season. Howard Beck of The New York Times has more on Shumpert’s injury, which doesn’t sound serious and hopefully isn’t for a Knicks team that counts Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomasamong its wounded:
The Knicks are still awaiting the return of Chandler, who is dealing with a bulging disk in his neck, and they are moving on without Kurt Thomas, who was lost this week to a broken foot that might end his season.
But the Knicks could not escape the night without another injury, this time to their youngest player. Iman Shumpert tweaked his left knee — the same one that was surgically repaired last spring — late in the first half. He was held out of the second half as a precaution.
Shumpert said he felt a pop in the knee while pushing off toward the rim. The medical staff later told him it was probably scar tissue.
“Last time I felt it pop, I was out eight months, so I was just a little nervous,” Shumpert said, referring to the torn ligaments he sustained last spring. “It scared me more than anything.”
Doctors will re-evaluate Shumpert on Thursday, but no tests are planned.
Kurt Thomas sounded much less optimistic than team officials about his potential return this season. Thomas has a stress reaction surrounding a stress fracture in his right foot. The Knicks are projecting a recovery of two to four weeks. But when Thomas was asked if he would play again, he said simply, “We’re going to see.” Asked if the chances were 50-50, he said, “I think that’s a good number.” Thomas confirmed that he initially sustained the stress fracture in 2006-7, when he played for the Phoenix Suns, and that it never completely healed. The injury was aggravated last Thursday in Portland.
Bynum has surgery, starts rehab soon — Andrew Bynum is done for the season after having arthroscopic surgery on his gimpy knees and our crew on the weekly Blogtable chimed in on exactly where Bynum would fit in best for 2013-14. While we all sit back and wonder where the former All-Star big man will end up and, if he’ll ever be an elite-level center again, Jason Wolfof The (Wilmington) News-Journal reports that Bynum is starting rehab work on his injury this Friday:
One-time All-Star center Andrew Bynum had arthroscopic knee surgeries Tuesday to remove debris from both joints and will begin physical therapy Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers announced.
The 7-foot, 300-pounder, who did not appear in a game this season because of bone and cartilage damage in his knees, will refrain from any weight-bearing activities for about three weeks and will spend an additional three weeks on crutches, according to the team.
Bynum’s longtime orthopedist, Dr. David Altchek of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the operations. The primary focus of the procedures was to clean out loose bodies from his knees in an attempt to alleviate pain and swelling.
Bynum, 25, was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee in September, a month after the Sixers acquired him from the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster four-team trade in August. The Sixers nevertheless expected Bynum to be ready to play in the season opener, but as the season progressed, the team and player repeatedly delayed the date of his expected debut. Bynum was diagnosed with a “mirror issue” in his left knee in November, when a piece of cartilage broke loose and his joint swelled after going bowling.
On one hand, Stoudemire looked better over the last two months than he did at any point last season. And he totaled 38 points and 17 rebounds in 60 minutes on Wednesday and Thursday. The news was sudden.
On the other hand, this is Amar’e Stoudemire we’re talking about. And it would probably have been a bigger surprise if he had made it through the rest of the season healthy.
Either way, the Knicks’ rotation just got even thinner now that Stoudemire is set to have surgery on his right knee, which will keep him out of action for the next six weeks. Six weeks from Saturday is the first day of the playoffs, but it would be awfully optimistic to think that he could be ready for the first couple of games of the first round.
In addition to Stoudemire, the Knicks will be without Rasheed Wallace for the rest of the season. So, even if you count Carmelo Anthony (who’s also out with a knee injury) as a power forward, the Knicks’ third big in the rotation is Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin or Kurt Thomas. Take your pick, because none of the three has been effective.
Stoudemire had been pretty strong offensively, averaging 14.2 points in 23.6 minutes on 58 percent shooting. But it’s hard to say that he made a big difference for the Knicks overall.
Stoudemire wasn’t a part of the Knicks’ early-season success and they were 16-13 in his 29 games. His defense wasn’t good and he was just a plus-28 in 682 total minutes.
The Knicks were pretty good with Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler on the floor together, but take Chandler out and they were pretty terrible … on both ends of the floor.
Knicks efficiency with Anthony and Stoudemire on floor
Chandler on/off floor
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
So yeah, the Knicks were, once again, outscored by their opponents when Anthony and Stoudemire shared the floor.
Of course, the Knicks have been generally mediocre for the last two months, whether or not Stoudemire was on the floor. He did help them on the interior offensively as their 3-point shooting regressed.
Still, if New York is going to win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years, it has to get better on the defensive end of the floor. And that might be easier to do without Stoudemire, as painful as it is to see guys like Thomas and James White get minutes.
Ultimately, Anthony’s health is a greater concern. The Knicks won a laugher over the Jazz without both Anthony and Stoudemire on Saturday, but that probably said more about Utah than it did about New York.
a HANG TIME, Texas – What better occasion than Super Bowl Sunday, our annual genuflection to wretched excess, to ask: When is enough enough?
Along about the time when the Knicks were tap-dancing on the chalk outline of all that was left of the Kings on Saturday night, the venerable Kurt Thomas rose up to launch one more 3-point shot.
Does the fact that Thomas, at 40, is the oldest player in the NBA, get him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps his failing eyesight couldn’t see the Madison Square Garden scoreboard that showed his team ahead by the fairly comfortable margin of 110-60?
What of the Knicks piling onto Sacramento with a whopping total of 43 shots from behind the arc on the night, J.R. Smith swinging his arms like a runaway windmill after nailing one, Carmelo Anthony and Steve Novak firing imaginary guns after hitting their targets?
“I’m not trying to rub this in,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “When it’s time to go to the bench, I do that. I’ve been on the other end of it in my career.”
Five nights earlier in Salt Lake City, the Rockets put the finishing touches on the worst home beating in the history of the Jazz, 125-80, by shooting 8-for-13 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“They didn’t let up one bit,” Utah forward Paul Millsap told the Salt Lake Tribune. “But believe me when I say we will see them again and, hopefully, it will be the other way around.”
Interestingly enough, on Friday night in Toronto, in the final seconds of a 98-73 thumping, it was the Clippers Caron Butler that raised eyebrows around the league. As the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas was dribbling out the clock, Butler approached and made like he was extending his arm in a handshake. When Valanciunas let down his guard, Butler then reached out to swipe the ball and tried to run off to score before he was fouled.
So what are the unwritten and unspoken rules of etiquette in these situations? Is there anything that says any one of these players did anything unsportsmanlike or unethical?
Remember, this was not teenager Danny Heater of West Virginia pouring it on with 135 points against an overmatched team of high schoolers. The Kings and Jazz and Raptors are all highly-paid pros. And, of course, the Raptors won the game.
“Is the clock still ticking? Are the lights still on? Is the game still being played?” asked Matt Bonner, the Spurs reserve who has had more than his share of experience in late-game situations.
“What you’re always taught is to keep playing hard and to always protect yourself any time you’re on the court. You can’t suddenly tell guys who are in at the end of the game to stop competing.”
To his credit, Kings coach Keith Smart told Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News that he did not mind the celebrating.
“I don’t feel that way,” the Sacramento coach said. “We’re all big boys. Guys don’t get a chance to play much, they want to shoot and keep playing. You can’t tell them not to shoot. Take your lumps and move on.”
In late-game situations, while the victims just want to hurry and get off the court, there can be other players getting a chance to shine.
“Look, there have been times when I haven’t played much all night and then we’ve got a big lead and Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) might send a bunch of us out there for the last seven or eight minutes,” Bonner said.
“Hey, I want to play. I want to do well. This is my chance. Pop might tell us no fastbreaks or something like that, but he still wants us to run our offense the right way, to play the game and take the shots.”
It is understandable. The reserves only move up in the rotation when they show what they can do. As Smart said, they’re all big boys and if you don’t like it, well, you could go out and defend all those 3s?
So then, how does anyone come up with a reasonable explanation for Butler’s rope-a-dope on Valanciunas?
We mentioned it in this space yesterday how the Knicks are among several teams facing a mountain of uncertainty as the season opener nears. Not only is New York fighting to move up a few notches in the Eastern Conference pecking order, but they’re also fighting to keep their new in-state NBA brethren, the Nets, from supplanting them as New York’s premiere team.
New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after re-injuring his surgically repaired left knee, according to league sources.
The news comes as a blow to the Knicks, who initially expected Stoudemire to return within two to three weeks after he ruptured a popliteal cyst behind the knee during the Knicks’ exhibition game against Toronto on Oct. 19.
But after Stoudemire received a second opinion over the weekend from Dr. Thomas Carter, the Phoenix Suns team doctor, it was determined he would need more time to heal. Carter performed microfracture surgery on Stoudemire’s left knee in 2005.
It is not clear whether Stoudemire will use the extra time off to have a procedure or for rest and rehab. Stoudemire may be out between 6-8 weeks, according to two of the sources.
The Knicks, who open the season Thursday at Brooklyn, are expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.
With Tyson Chandler reeling from a collision with Gerald Wallace in the preseason, Knicks fans will have to hope that the veteran frontcourt combination of Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas (among others) have enough energy left to do a yeoman’s job in the post while Stoudemire and Chandler heal up. Carmelo Anthony is there to pick up the scoring slack and has the stage set to start off with a monstrous scoring outburst, but is that best for New York’s long-term plan? No matter how it shakes out, the start of the season for the Knicks just got a whole lot tougher.
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.comon 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.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Dallas Mavericks losing All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki for anywhere from six to eight weeks after knee surgery isn’t quite the same as the New York Knicks losing their All-Star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire for two to three weeks with a ruptured popliteal cyst behind his left knee.
Not even in the NBA, where numbers often lie, can anyone show you the complicated math that makes these losses equal for two teams that most pundits expected to scrap for their playoff lives all season.
But if we were going on theories alone, it could be argued that Stoudemire’s absence could be even more devastating for the Knicks. Thanks to supersized local expectations and the fact that Kurt Thomas, complete with his NBAAARP membership card in hand, will struggle mightily to replace Stoudemire in the Knicks’ lineup, even if it is for just half the time that the Mavericks will have to find a suitable replacement for Nowitzki, the Knicks will be tested in Stoudemire’s absence.
They kick the season off with games against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers (back-to-back) and the Nowitzki-less Mavericks. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd should be able to handle much of the heavy lifting in Stoudemire’s absence.
That said, this is a much different situation and Knicks team than the one that survived significant injuries to both Stoudemire and Anthony to secure a playoff bid. For one, there is no Jeremy Lin on the roster to shake things up this time around. And as solid as Thomas has been throughout his career, asking him to produce numbers like Stoudemire does is simply unrealistic.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If veterans and the experience they bring is truly the key to championship basketball in the NBA, someone in New York needs to start mapping out a parade route.
Of course, we all know it’s not that simple.
But there is no denying the fact that the New York Knicks have cornered the market on seasoned veterans’ help this season. While other teams around the NBA are hitting the court for training camp with rosters filled with young stars, the Knicks have done the exact opposite, piling a crew of relative silver foxes into their locker room for Mike Woodson‘s first full season as coach.
TNT’s Charles Barkley is going to have a field day with his Father Time jokes this season, what with the crew of 30-somethings — Pablo Prigioni (35), Marcus Camby (38), Jason Kidd (39) and Kurt Thomas (40 this week) and potentially Rasheed Wallace (38), who is expected to sign this week — on the Knicks’ roster.
General manager Glen Grunwald said the transactions undoubtedly improved the team. “We don’t think we got older. We feel we got more experienced and better,” he said, adding that these are “some hungry veterans that know how to win and are still very good players.” He cited Kidd and Wallace winning titles elsewhere, and Camby having previously won the defensive-player-of-the-year award.
“We can play,” Camby said, bristling at the notion that he and other players might need days off during the season to stay fresh. “Otherwise the organization wouldn’t have brought us in here.”
Still, it is fair to question whether the signings will help the Knicks close the gap between them and faster-paced teams like the defending champion Miami Heat. Kidd and Thomas in particular are coming off of the least productive seasons of their careers, and Grunwald acknowledged he wasn’t sure how Wallace would respond after having taken two seasons off.
“Ball don’t lie.” WWE-style championship belts. “Both teams played hard (snicker, snicker).” ‘SHEEEEEEED!
Now that we’ve got that out of our system, do we really need to take seriously any speculation that former NBA big man Rasheed Wallace is thinking about a comeback with the New York Knicks? With anybody, for that matter?
The man turned 38 last week. He hasn’t played in the NBA in more than two years — since June 17, 2010, to be exact, when he filled in for Boston’s injured Kendrick Perkins and nearly needed oxygen while logging more than 35 minutes. In the Celtics’ Game 7 Finals loss in Los Angeles, Wallace scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out.
‘Sheed, by that point, was a role player. His 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 22.5 minutes per game were the lowest numbers of his career. On a 36-minute basis — 14.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg — they were right at his career averages (14.6, 6.7). But there was a message being sent by the rims of the NBA, because the 3-point shot that he increasingly favored (5.9 attempts per 36 minutes, highest of his 15 seasons) was successful just 28.3 percent of the time.
Besides, Wallace by his own admission wasn’t in shape at age 35 — any more than he had been at 34, 33 … (you get the idea). He said he planned to work out with Philadelphia pal and prizefighter Bernard Hopkins before the 2010-11 season. Instead, Wallace retired.
So factor that in when considering reports from ESPN.com and now Newsday that Wallace worked out with the Knicks’ Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas — oh, the cartilage! — and that New York is thinking of signing him. (more…)