Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Knicks are not in total freefall by any means.
But they are in a pickle and, much like actual pickles, the pickles the Knicks face come in all forms.
On the court, the Knicks have lost starting center and defensive anchor Tyson Chandler. He suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula. The injury will not require surgery, but the big fella will be gone 4-6 weeks.
How do you replace Chandler? Head coach Mike Woodson already acknowledged no roster moves would be forthcoming, so it shall come from within. The candidates are Andrea Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin or Cole Aldrich.
"Everybody's got to step up," Woodson said. "Tyson's a big piece, but Cole (Aldrich) now becomes maybe a rotation. The minutes Kenyon (Martin) and Amare (Stoudemire) give us have to be good minutes."
There are few teams in the NBA who can replace a starting center. Almost every team would cobble something together, or sign Jason Collins, but the Knicks replacements feature widespread cause for concern.
Bargnani has never displayed the toughness to be a Disney World employee, let alone a starting center. Stoudemire is on a minutes restriction and his body is deteriorating. As for Martin, move your eyes back to the last sentence and change the name. Aldrich as a meaningful contributor made me smile.
Woodson is a competent NBA coach. He'll scrap something together. (My bet is on more of Martin.) But the center situation isn't the only problem on the court for the Knickerbockers.
Last season, the Knicks led the NBA in fewest turnovers committed. This season, they are throwing the ball around to Spike Lee and Philip Seymour Hoffman. New York is 16th.
The defense has been solid. The Knicks rank third in opponents' scoring and eighth in opponents' field-goal percentage. Those numbers should go down without Chandler as none of that quartet, other than Martin, is defensive- minded.
Offense is a problem.
The Knicks rank 25th in scoring and are down 8.0 ppg from last season, when they averaged 100.0 ppg on the button. Field-goal percentage is 20th and 3- point shooting is 24th. The Knicks are tied for 27th in assists, which is actually an IMPROVEMENT from last season when they were last.
But last season they won, so the stagnant nature of their offense didn't matter. Carmelo gets the ball, creates any number of shots for himself and we move on. Anthony is actually a little underrated as a facilitator, but generally, the ball goes to him and everyone clears out.
Again, that's somewhat fixable. Anthony will score more than the 23.8 ppg he's at now. The Knicks will need that. Raymond Felton should see an increase in his scoring as well and maybe Bargnani's numbers go up with more minutes.
What should be most concerning to the Knicks is that the effort or intensity is not there. After a season-opening win over the Milwaukee Bucks, and a respectable loss in Chicago, the Knicks allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves 40 points in the first quarter. They lost that one at home and two nights later, gave up 64 points in the first half en route to a home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
That sort of thing can mean only one thing - team meeting.
"We shut the door after the game and talked it out a little bit and figure out what was going on," said Anthony. "We just weren't competing the way we know how to compete. I felt we needed to sit and talk. We've got to want it. We're playing like we don't believe in ourselves."
The Knicks are a veteran team and shouldn't have competitive lapses. Anthony displayed some genuine leadership, but he shouldn't have to motivate his teammates.
The owner, James Dolan, canned general manager Glen Grunwald just before the season. All Grunwald did was untangle the humongous knot of Christmas lights that was the Isiah Thomas era, and set the team up to win the Atlantic Division.
Then, Dolan says, according to reports, he expects the team to win a title this season. That's impractical as it is helpful.
The Knicks don't have a championship caliber roster. They have a good one and one that should make the postseason, but it's not a title team.
And since Dolan fired Grunwald after he built the first Knicks team that advanced in the playoffs in 13 years, it probably bathed Woodson in confidence that his boss thinks they should win a title this season. Woodson, according to reports, said he was surprised the roster wasn't built with more championship experienced personnel.
There's nothing going on here that can't be cured with a few wins. But, it bears watching that the Knicks are in some trouble at the moment. Woodson and the Knicks have to hope to stay around .500 until Chandler comes back.
If not, he might be joining Grunwald on the unemployment line.
- The Indiana Pacers might actually get better. They are incredibly deep with the underrated Luis Scola and C.J. Watson and with that Danny Granger trade chip lingering out there, they could upgrade at guard.
- The Chicago Bulls don't need to panic, and yes, Derrick Rose is struggling. But Joakim Noah averaging 5.5 ppg isn't helping much.
- The Larry Sanders situation is mildly ugly. After complaining about his playing time under new Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Drew, he got into a bar fight and hurt his thumb. That's a dumb way to get in better graces with your coach.
- Movie moment - For some coincidental reason, the last two movies I've watched have been "The Wrestler" (love it), and "Parental Guidance" (hate it). Both star Marisa Tomei and I feel like both characters would not approve of the other.
- TV moment - I can not wait for NBC's live "Sound of Music" remake starring Carrie Underwood. If Mrs. Underwood performed this live in my home, while I was eating a cheesesteak, drinking a beer and getting my feet rubbed, I'd still hate it.