Many people believe that the New York Knicks have lost of one of their most important players on the team which is very certain. Knicks center Tyson Chandler left Tuesday night’s game vs. Charlotte Bobcats in the first quarter after reportedly injuring his right knee during a collision with Kemba Walker.
It has been reported that Chandler does indeed have a small non-displaced fracture of his right fibula and is expected to miss four to six weeks, the team announced Wednesday. Although the Knicks doctors did reveal that the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2011-12, did not suffer any ligament or nerve damage and will not need surgery.
Oct 11, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) controls the ball against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-91. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
To show how much Chandler truly means to this team, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson released a statement Wednesday after the reports were released from the team doctors:
"“All we can do is nurse [Chandler] back. It’s going to be a four- to six- week process and then welcome him back with open arms, because at the end of the day he is a big piece to what we’re doing. He was the reason why we had the success we had in the last two seasons and we are going to need him in a uniform soon.”"
Chandler is arguably the second-most important Knick, behind Carmelo Anthony, and the team will be hard-pressed to fill the void. What this injury does to the rest of the team is it will force other players in the frontcourt to step up their level of play tremendously.
Currently, The Knicks do have Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Cole Aldrich as other possibilities at the center spot, but in reality those guys are obviously even close to as dominating or even intimidating at all down low.
According to sources close to the team, coach Woodson’s plan will be to alternate between Stoudemire and Martin as the main rotation at center.
The reason he wants to alternate the two big men is to keep both very injury prone players as healthy as they can possibly be. Both Martin and Stoudemire have been on a minutes restriction, with Stoudemire being brought along slowly due to knee issues. Martin, 35, now could see more minutes than anticipated.
So far this season, Chandler has averaged 7.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per-game through four games. Keep in mind that he also had five blocks in the season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks and also 19 rebounds and four blocks against the Chiacgo Bulls while battling one of the other top centers in the league in Joakim Noah.
There has also been other reports surfacing around, that Woodson may be looking at starting a smaller lineup that contains Andrea Bargnani at center, Anthony at the power forward, Iman Shumpert at small forward, and Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton in the backcourt since J.R. Smith is not able to play until Sunday due to his suspension.
The main issue with Chandler being hurt for the first month or so is the possibility of falling behind in the Eastern Conference. With teams like the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers playing exceptionally well early on in the season, the Knicks may find themselves too far behind in the standings and will cause them to be playing a game of “catch up”.
What the Knicks should be hoping for is that Chandler heals fast and actually returns in the 4-6 week time frame as expected. If it just so happens that he doesn’t come back as early as people expect then the Knicks will be doomed.
Also, New York will be hopeful that he returns in full recoevery and is not brought back to soon. Coming back too early from knee injuries could end up being very costly and could end up hurting them even more than letting him go through the full healing process. The Knicks hope for a speedy recovery because without Chandler, the Knicks have almost no interior defense.