There are lots of things teams try to do with exhibition games, from giving end-of-the-bench guys a chance to trying out new rotations to helping gyms in Albany sell some tickets, but the primary objective is always to avoid injury. Last night, just one minute into the Knicks' final exhibition game, against the Brooklyn Nets at Nassau Coliseum, they failed in that objective, in perhaps the worst possible way.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler banged knees with Nets' forward Gerald Wallace just after the game began and went down in a heap. It was scary at the time, but the Knicks said, before the game was over, that the move was just a precautionary one, that he'll be fine. After the game, though, Chandler was less certain.
“I stretched my knee out a little and it was awkward,” Chandler said. “I’m taking precautions until I get an MRI so I will be on crutches. I do not want it to get worse. They tell me to stay off my knee until I get an MRI.”
He said that while on crutches, by the way. Needless to say, losing Chandler would be cataclysmic for the Knicks. For all the (elderly) front-court depth the Knicks have stacked up in the off-season, Chandler is the centerpiece of everything the Knicks do on the defensive end. Just as important, he's the force of normalcy on this team, the one guy who's trusted by teammates and fans alike. (We noticed a lot less "they got rid of Lin" angst after Chandler said in the preseason that the point guard was too young and inconsistent.) He's extremely likable and, oh yeah, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
So yeah: If he's out, the Knicks, already down Amar'e Stoudemire, have serious trouble. Chandler will get an MRI later today. Carmelo Anthony after the game said that Chandler will be fine, that he'll "be ready" for the opener against the Nets, which is one week from today. Let's hope that Dr. Anthony's diagnosis holds.