Carmelo Anthony is the best player on the New York Knicks‘ roster. He finished in the top three in the MVP voting last year and is the player the Knicks would like to build around. However, just because he is the best player doesn’t make him the most important player to the team. The Knicks are a roster full of perimeter players and only one defensive minded big man and that is Tyson Chandler.
The Knicks struggle playing perimeter defense, but having Chandler around the rim allows them to play these perimeter players together. Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Andrea Bargnani all are below average defensive players and all play big minutes for them. Their best perimeter defenders are Metta World Peace and Iman Shumpert, but both of them are offensive liabilities.
Chandler is two years removed from being the Defensive Player of the Year and is the one player they can’t afford to lose. Last season they were able to stay afloat with Melo because of the amount of shooters on the roster. Other than Chandler, the three big men on the roster are Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich. None of those three are rim protectors, and both Martin and Stoudemire are more power forwards than centers.
On Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, Chandler collided with Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker and left the game with a knee injury. They haven’t confirmed the severity of the injury, but if he is out for a lengthy time period, it won’t only hurt the Knicks playoff chances, but may also signal the end of Anthony’s time with New York.
Anthony has stated he will test free agency at the end of the year and obviously will listen to all offers. The Knicks’ roster as it is now cannot compete with the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls or Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks’ roster without Chandler cannot compete with the Bobcats, which has to worry Melo. If the Knicks do miss the postseason, a possible landing spot for Carmelo could be the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant. The two of them would be the best scoring duo in the NBA and give Carmelo his first legitimate chance at a title.
If Anthony’s No. 1 goal is to win an NBA title, this injury to Chandler could end his quest with the Knicks. If his No. 1 goal is to be the best player on a big market team and make a maximum amount of money, then this injury to Chandler means that they won’t be good this year and will rebuild the roster for next season.