If the New York Knicks’ 1-3 start was bad enough — it’s about to get worse. The Knicks announced today that Tyson Chandler will miss 4-6 weeks with a
non-displaced medical term jargon hoopla with a fracture in his right fibula. It’s a huge loss as Chandler is the team’s defensive anchor, pick-and-roll cog, and spiritual leader.
Chandler was impressive to begin the season. He defended with gusto, swallowed up rebounds and loose balls, and spiked a crater into the hardwood when anyone sent an alley-oop his way. Furthermore, he was showing flashes of an expanded offensive game, even finishing an and-one opportunity on a jump hook across the lane in last night’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Knicks will miss his presence dearly.
In the meantime, the Knicks probably have enough to get by on while Chandler recovers. Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin are certain to see more minutes in the coming weeks, particularly at center, despite the limitations of each. Amar’e Stoudemire and his wacky schedule will probably see more minutes, too. And Cole Aldrich, who’s been inactive so far, will likely see some minutes, too, as he is the only legitimate center who is fully healthy.
Some people have already wondered if the Knicks will cut Chris Smith — whose contract should be fully guaranteed by now — and replace him with Jeremy Tyler, who signed with the Knicks’ D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks, this week. However, Tyler himself is working his way back from a foot injury, and might not be able to make much of a contribution himself.
However, how much will the Knicks risk by simply operating with their current group. Carmelo Anthony is already playing over 40 minutes a game, and with smaller lineups likely on the horizon, the rest of the back-court will probably see a jump in playing time. Additionally, asking Martin, Bargnani, and Stoudemire to play more minutes isn’t the best idea since all three have a fairly extensive injury history. It doesn’t make much sense on the court, and it could possibly worsen the Knicks’ outlook beyond Chandler if anybody else gets hurt.
So, is it worth making a trade?
It’s a possibility the Knicks should consider, even if it never becomes a realistic opportunity. The Knicks are already two games below .500, and without Chandler, they could fall even further behind. If a viable backup center is available, it might be worthwhile for the Knicks to try and grab him. Fetching a low-cost backup would be helpful in picking up Chandler’s spare minutes, but it would also fill a need that will still exist when Chandler returns — the Knicks still don’t have any great backup big men.
Of course, this all depends on the asking price. This is pure speculation, but one has to wonder who the Knicks would make available. Would it be mainly bench players, like Beno Udrih, Pablo Prigioni (please no), Toure’ Murry, or even Martin? Would they give up Tim Hardaway Jr., who shows promise, but will likely be pushed to the bench when J.R. Smith returns? Would it be Iman Shumpert, whose strange relationship with the Knicks this season has already raised eyebrows?
The Knicks have to consider the long-term possibilities. In recent years, the Knicks have been blitzed in trades for having a clear need that other teams exploit. If another team has a backup center the Knicks want, they will likely boost the asking price knowing the Knicks are desperate. Unless a trade is going to net someone like Enes Kanter or Greg Monroe (two players who aren’t inked to contract extensions), it’s not worth investing too much for a backup center.
If it’s a player worthwhile getting, other teams will likely ask for Shumpert or Hardaway Jr., to which the Knicks would hopefully respond with a resounding “No!” Both players fill needs on this team (even if Hardaway may be bench-bound) and both have potential futures with the team, even with a possible rebuild a year or two down the line. If grabbing a backup center only costs the Knicks someone like Udrih, Martin, Murry, or Aldrich, then it may be worth it. While those players all have value with the Knicks, the potential to grab a legitimate big man to fill Chandler’s shoes could be worthwhile.
Again: all speculation, and a trade may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s something the Knicks should at least consider.
Comment and let us know if you think the Knicks should make a trade.
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