Before I was a writer for Buckets Over Broadway, I was a fan. Being a New York Knicks’ fan is a way of life. We live and die with every win. We feel the pain of every injury. Sitting here as I write this, my leg hurts, as I feel Tyson Chandler‘s pain.
But as any true fan knows, the emotional disappointment Chandler is feeling, hurts way more than his leg. As I reported last night, after watching the game, I did not suspect a ligamentous injury. Upon watching the moment of impact, I suspected a bone bruise. I did not suspect a fracture, because the first report from Knick Universe was that the X-Rays were inconclusive.
Now either the Knick media people hid the truth, as they have done in the past, like they did with Amar’e Stoudemire’s summer knee surgery, or they are incompetent. I say this as this wasn’t a hairline fracture, but a displacement fracture. A displacement fracture is easier to read, but way more serious. Expect a minimum of six weeks, if Chandler heals well, and probably 8-10 weeks before we see him back on the court.
The only good news, is a fracture, is not as serious as an ACL Injury would have been. My college coach, Paul Lizzo, who went on to coach the Philadelphia 76ers used to say “there are no mistakes in life, only lessons”. Former general manager Glen Grunwald brought us Chandler. The trade for Chandler was his best work as a GM.
But his offseason failures this year cost him his job. Basketball is big business and the Knicks are the biggest in the business. We will survive this injury and like Chandler’s leg, the Knicks will heal, but it will take time.
Anyone who watched the Knicks in preseason, in their first four games, knew this was not a championship team. As Alan Hahn stated, “they are a team without an identity” Actually, Chandler’s injury, may have saved head coach Mike Woodson‘s job. During the first three games, the Knicks were sloppy, inconsistent, unorganized and unprepared. I have stated in all my columns, I love Woodson, but the first four games of this year were his worst as a Knick coach.
I knew coming into the year, this was not a great team, I was hoping for a good team. Now, I was not alone in my thinking. Knicks’ management, James Dolan’s people, knew this. They knew what I knew, which is why Grunwald was fired prior to the season.
So where did he fail and what do we do now?
The first two things I would do is sign Earl Barron and Ike Diogu. Neither is a replacement for Chandler, but we need to start somewhere. According to Jared Zwerling, who wrote “Spoke with big Earl Barron. He is back in U.S. from China. Says he’s in great shape & “excited about Knicks interest.”
He added “Barron on NY: “I can space the floor, make shots, definitely get in there & rebound, & provide energy on Defense.
Barron in his brief stint with the Knicks last year had 18 rebounds in one game and sported a nice touch from 10 to 15 feet from the basket. General manager Steve Mills needs to pick up the phone, today and call Baron. He Knows the Knicks’ system, is 7-feet tall and brings experience to the frontcourt.
The next move would be to add Diogu, who showed his toughness during the preseason. He showed he can score (he had 21 in one game) and can rebound. He showed he belongs in the NBA.
To make room for him, I send Chris Smith to the Knicks Erie, D-league team. Under the circumstances the Smith family will understand and his full salary is already guaranteed. At Erie, he will gain the experience he needs, if he is to ever really make it in the NBA.
This this move a “win-win”, as everyone saves face on the Smith dilemma. Mills must step up and earn his money, now today. This is New York, there is no next year. The Knicks cannot sit pat. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Woodson knows this is not the same team that won 54 games last year. He stated “ I think what we have done here for the last few years, we made some major ground and some major steps. But this is a different year. That team that played and won 54 games is not here. It is my job as a coach to get this team to gel and play at a high level. If I got to always look over my shoulders, then I can’t do my job, so that is why I never do that. Try to look ahead, that is what is staring at me right now.” (via ESPN.com)
The Knicks now can experiment without media pressure. No one expects the Knicks to win now. Now we gain the advantage of being the underdog. Charles Barkley said on ESPN radio 98.7, ” they got no answer for him, he is the most important player-without him, they are in serious trouble.”
Last year with the help of Kenyon Martin the Knicks thrived as Chandler recovered. Grunwald failed at not bringing in a backup center, now Mills is on the clock. Now Woodson must surrender his stubbornness and start to play Cole Aldrich. With Chandler you don’t replace scoring, you replace toughness, hustle and intensity. You must play center by committee. A combination of Stoudemire, Martin, Aldrich and hopefully Barron.
To play Andrea Bargnani at center will cost Woodson his job, as they will lose games, while Bargnani loses his convince. Woodson has failed to date in his utilization of Bargnani. Whether he liked the acquisition of Bargnani during the offseason or not, is not the point. We have him and it is his job to implement him and build chemistry around him. He is an asset.
Chris Herring reported, Woodson said when talking on Bargnani, ” You’ve gotta play him. He’s a talented kid who’s trying to find himself, and I’ve gotta do a better job of helping him”
Bargnani is not a center, he is a scorer. We need someone to clog the middle when they dribble past Raymond Felton. Barron and Aldrich can do this as Stoudemire and Martin play their way into shape.
Woodson must recognize that Bargnani is not a rookie. He has scored 15 points or more per game, year in, year out. Woodson didn’t want him, but you got him and now need him, so play him. Mills must prepare for the future by protecting the integrity of the Knicks brand.
Now Woodson has no excuses. No failure will be condemned now. Let us find out what Stoudemire has in the tank, if Aldrich can ever be a legitimate backup center in the NBA, if Martin can repeat his antics and talents of last year, while staying healthy for an entire season, or if Jeremy Tyler ( when healthy) is ready for a full time NBA address.
The season is far from over, now is the time to tinker, to prepare. Grunwald made his mistakes, now Mills can make a name for himself while he makes the repairs.