When the New York Knicks return home to take on Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, they'll do so without two of their top big men. Both Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin exited Thursday's blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers early due to ankle injuries, and as the team announced through its public relations Twitter account Friday, the injuries will keep Stoudemire and Martin in street clothes for a bit:
An MRI this afternoon on Amar’e Stoudemire’s l. ankle confirmed a sprain & a bone bruise. He is expected to be out approximately 2 weeks.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) January 17, 2014
An MRI this afternoon on Kenyon Martin’s left ankle confirmed a sprain and tendinitis. He is expected to be out approximately two weeks. — NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) January 17, 2014
Martin appeared to begin favoring his ankle after stepping on Stoudemire's foot following a Luis Scola miss with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter:
Stoudemire's injury took place with just under 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, when he step on the foot of Pacers center Roy Hibbert during a drive to the basket:
Stoudemire had scored eight points on 3 for 6 shooting and grabbed three rebounds in 14 minutes of play prior to exiting the game. Martin's stat line remained bare, save for one missed field goal and one personal foul, in seven-plus minutes of action. Rookie shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. also sustained an injury in the loss to Indiana, tweaking his left wrist, but Knicks head coach Mike Woosdon said that the Michigan product will be available against Doc Rivers' Clippers on Friday.
The two-week timetable could rule Stoudemire and Martin out for the duration of the Knicks' eight-game homestand, which begins Friday against the Clippers and wraps up on Feb. 1 against the two-time-defending champion Miami Heat, leaving an already thin Knicks frontcourt downright gaunt during a stretch in which they desperately need to string together some wins if they're to make a move into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Forward Metta World Peace remains sidelined with a strained left knee, and starting center Tyson Chandler, two games removed from a four-game absence due to an upper respiratory infection, still looks somewhat the worse for wear after suffering through bronchitis. Martin's injury leaves the Knicks without a reliable defensive center to spell Chandler off the bench; Stoudemire's injury leaves New York without a viable second-unit offensive presence up front.
Given the paucity of available frontcourt options for New York and Chandler still appearing unfit for heavy minutes after his illness (which interrupted his return last month from a fractured right fibula), the injuries could lead Woodson to give recently added big man Jeremy Tyler a longer look after some solid play in very limited minutes since being called up from the D-League's Erie BayHawks, or perhaps dust off oft-forgotten third-string center Cole Aldrich.
It could also, perhaps, force Woodson into moving Andrea Bargnani — the supplemental big man purportedly imported this offseason to add size and space the floor, who is 11 for 50 from 3-point range since Dec. 1, who has the second worst rebounding rate of any 7-footer, and in whose minutes the Knicks are being outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions (compared to being outscored by 0.7 points-per-100 when he sits) — to the bench as a backup center, sliding Carmelo Anthony up to power forward alongside Chandler in the brand of perimeter-heavy lineups that were the mother's milk of last year's 54-win, third-best-offense-in-the-NBA Knicks.
With Raymond Felton back from injury, J.R. Smith returned to the rotation after his, um, unpleasantness, Iman Shumpert showing signs of life recently, Hardaway performing better than some expected as a rookie, rookie point guard Toure' Murry providing flashes of perimeter defense and playmaking and injured reserve point man Pablo Prigioni nearing a return from a toe injury, the Knicks appear much deeper in the backcourt and on the wing than along the front line, which would seem to make the transition to what had worked in the past pretty logical.
If that move is to come, it won't be at the opening tip Friday night. The Knicks will start Chandler, Bargnani and Anthony up front against the Clippers.
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