Tyson Chandler appeared at MSG Training Center on Thursday afternoon and put on a brave face while delivering a strong message to his teammates just one day after the team announced he would miss the next 4-6 weeks due to a small non-displaced fracture of the right fibula.
“It’s disappointing but I have to look at it as a positive,” Chandler commented. “There’s nothing I can do obviously. The only thing I can do now is get stronger while I’m out, encourage my teammates, I think there are some things we can work on while I’m out and when I’m come back try to help.”
Fans inside MSG felt immediate despair when Chandler toppled to the ground in the first quarter of the loss to the Bobcats. Chandler’s emotions were similar but he is glad the injury was not more severe.
“I’m obviously disappointed I can’t be out there with my team but all things being said, if it was going to be an injury at least it’s this one, not anything worse. Hopefully, I can get back within a month or so,” Chandler added.
The 7-foot leader was calm when vocalizing the mantra for a 1-3 team looking to reverse its play in rapid fashion, “We have to stay together and continue to play for one another. Get out there and play with some spirit. We are four games into the season, now is not the time to point fingers or anything. We just have to play together.”
Adjusting The Lineup
Chandler is a defensive force in the paint and an effective pick-and-roll center. Head coach Mike Woodson will now have to adjust the starting lineup and rotations to fill the void left by the big man.
"Cole Aldrich should probably have an opportunity to play and we kind of have to re-shuffle our lineup in terms of how we are going to start and go from there,” Woodson said.
The head coach will most likely move Pablo Prigioni into the starting lineup next to Raymond Felton in a two-point guard set. Andrea Bargnani will get the nod at center and Carmelo Anthony will move back to the power forward spot next to Iman Shumpert at small forward. Woodson said Bargnani’s minutes will increase to 30-plus and he expects the former Raptor to have an impact when running pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop offensive sets.
All signs point to Beno Udrih jumping off the pine as the back-up point guard for the second unit. J.R. Smith is still unavailable until Sunday’s game against the Spurs because of the five-game suspension.
Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are options in the frontcourt but Woodson said their minutes would not exceed 20 to counter the loss of Chandler. The team is hoping to keep both big men fresh for the season and a playoff run.
Woodson also told media members in attendance at MSG Training Center that he will meet with general manager and president Steve Mills and Allan Houston to discuss possible free agent bigs on the market.
The Knicks may elect to increase the tempo with a small-ball look starting Friday night in Charlotte. Last year, the squad was successful with Felton and Prigioni in the backcourt and now the team can utilize its versatile wings to generate opportunities in the open floor.
“We definitely want to play up-tempo but at the same time we have to play where it’s effective for us to win the game. So, whatever it takes. If we have to play slow basketball that’s the way we will play. If we have to play up-tempo that’s the way we will play,” Felton explained.