On Past And Future Depth

When the Knicks compiled the oldest team ever in the history of history, the rationale was that veteran savvy would lend itself well to playoff success. Unsurprisingly, before long, most of these same veterans suffered regular season injuries. Many Knicks’ fans were unperturbed, rationalizing these concerns away in the same manner: “What matters is that Camby and Sheed and Kurt and Kidd be healthy in May, not December or January.” Well, what is a bench for if not to spell a team’s best players from time to time? Many of these veterans either did not make it to playoffs, or were burnt out by the time the playoffs arrived. Worse, and as a consequence, injuries to the Knicks’ bench forced their core to play extended minutes.

JR Smith played by far more minutes, on average, than he had in his entire career – and by the playoffs had to contend with fluid buildup in his knee. Carmelo Anthony similarly averaged close to a career high in minutes in his 10th NBA season and also battled overuse injuries (fluid) and other ailments (shoulder, etc.). Tyson Chandler, the Knicks’ historically brittle Center, averaged 4 more minutes than his career average – in his 12th in the league. He was famously a shell of himself by the time the season ended.

Of the Knicks’ bench players, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace retired due to injury before the season ended. Marcus Camby was hobbled and averaged 10 minutes in the 24 games in which he appeared. Arguably the only of the elder bench players who made it through the season unscathed were Jason Kidd – the 40 year old who flamed out in the playoffs, and late season acquisition Kenyon Martin, who nevertheless had to miss several games due to an overuse condition in his knee.

The rationale for compiling a team of geriatrics was that their savvy would prove valuable in the playoffs. That savvy did not do much to help preserve the players whose health the Knicks’ depended on most for success. More likely, the old-age movement was thrust upon Glen Grunwald by the circumstances attending the Knicks’ salary cap situation. Grunwald gambled trying to get the best he could in exchange for what little he had.

Next season the Knicks should focus on acquiring young, or at least younger veterans who will make up for their lack of savvy with their ability to actually play basketball.

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