It’s a good thing the Knicks have enough players to go two deep at most positions because their depth could be tested soon.
Despite a layoff during the All-Star break, center Tyson Chandler’s left wrist hasn’t made the recovery that he and the training staff have hoped. Chandler was seen at yesterday’s practice heavily favoring his wrist, often flexing his hand and stretching out his wrist.
The veteran said he’ll do what he can to play through the pain, but if Tuesday’s session was any indication, Chandler could be hindered by this ailment.
“I thought the [All-Star] break would do me some good, but coming back today in practice and trying to catch the ball was still difficult,” Chandler said. “It’s still pretty sore, [but] as long as I feel like I can fight through it I’ll stay out there.”
Chandler first hurt the wrist in a Feb. 19 game against his former team, the Mavericks. He aggravated it the following night in a loss to the Nets and said that during that game was the first time he felt as if the wrist could be a problem.
“I felt like in the last couple of games, there were plays like in the [New] Jersey game when we made a couple of key steals, but I wasn’t able to make the outlet [passes] and the ball just fell out of my hands,” Chandler said, adding the real problem isn’t just the wrist itself.
“If it continues to bother me then I’ll kind of wonder about it. They said it’s a deep bone bruise and affecting the nerves, which is the reason for the weakness in my hands.”
Chandler added if his play continues to be adversely affected, sitting out and getting more tests may be an option — an option he hopes doesn’t come to fruition.
“It’s difficult right now, but the good thing is we only have Wednesday’s game and then a couple more days to monitor it,” he offered. “But if I feel like it’s doing more harm than good then maybe I’ll get it tested.”
Head coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t seem as cautious as Chandler and thinks he’ll be “fine.” D’Antoni even joked that Chandler’s malady may affect his long-range touch.
“I hope not,” D’Antoni said when asked if he foresees Chandler missing any game action. “He’ll be fine. It’ll only hurt his 3-point shooting, but he’ll be fine.”
D’Antoni then added his biggest concern with Chandler is the sometimes awkward moments on the court when he and Amar’e Stoudemire look uncomfortable meshing. Both bigs thrive in the high pick-and-roll, yet only one can be used in the play at a time.
And now that D’Antoni finally has a true point guard in Jeremy Lin to properly run the offense, there have been too many times when either big man has looked lost.
“We have to work all that out together because in order to be a championship team [Stoudemire] will have to learn to play with Tyson and vice-versa,” D’Antoni said. “You can’t win without both being on the floor together, especially at the end of games, so we’ll have to figure that out and I think we can.”
»D’Antoni said he’s happy with the way guys have been buying into the system. He added that it all starts with his veteran leadership, particularly Stoudemire, who has found a way to balance being a team leader while not letting ego get into the way. Prior to Carmelo Anthony’s arrival last February, Stoudemire was the city’s “it” guy. But Anthony stole some of that luster, without a peep from Stoudemire. Flash forward a year later and it’s now Lin garnering all the press clippings, with Stoudemire still not making waves. D’Antoni said such leadership is why Stoudemire is one of his favorite players.
D’Antoni said such praise can also be hurled towards Lin, whose meteoric rise to fame has made for a great story. The coach noted the notoriety hasn’t changed Lin as a person and added he doesn’t think it ever will: “He’s the same guy. He won’t change. He’s a smart kid [and] has a good ego. He’s just a good guy. It depends on the guy because the same [sudden fame] could happen to a bad guy and he’ll go nutty a bit. But if you’re a mature and intelligent person I don’t worry about that.”
» The Knicks are almost at full roster again, as only Bill Walker (elbow) didn’t practice. Rookie Josh Harrellson returned to practice after his fractured wrist healed. Iman Shumpert (knee tendinitis) also fully practiced.
D’Antoni said depth could be a gift and a curse because most rotations have a set limit: “Physically [Harrellson and Shumpert] looked good and they’ll both play. Now, can everybody get in the game? I don’t know, [but] we’ll try to. I think about it all the time, but it’s not humanly possible to play 12 guys in a normal rotation. Ten the most, 11 maybe. But that’s how we’ll do things. We’ll have to see how guys are playing and how injuries are going. But the idea is you have to be ready because whoever doesn’t play today might play tomorrow. It could be a 10-game rotation for a back-to-back, but it might not be the same 10. There’s going to be a time when the 10th guy doesn’t go in but the 11th guy does.”
»Assistant coach Herb Williams said how well guys handle the sporadic rotation will go a long way in determining the success of the team. Williams has been with the Knicks for almost 20 years as either a player or coach and added it’s been a fun to see how the Knicks are on the cusp of returning to elite status: “It’s way different than say five years ago. Back then everyone was saying we’re too [salary] capped out and we couldn’t get it done, so deal with it because this is the team we have. But now it’s all about how soon we can put this together. … It’s not about stats or individuals, so we mean it when we tell them if you don’t buy in you’re going to struggle.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.