Tyson Chandler praises GM Glen Grunwald for Knicks' depth

Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks drives Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks drives to the basket over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Dec. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

advertisement | advertise on newsday

CHICAGO -- Glen Grunwald, the low-profile, hardly quoted Knicks general manager, doesn't seek attention. But it might find him if his team continues to be a beast in the East.

Grunwald assembled this experienced and hungry team that already has won in San Antonio and earned two 20-point victories over the defending champion Heat. Thursday's win in Miami earned Grunwald a shout-out from Tyson Chandler.

"We're a good team this year," Chandler said. "I've been saying since the summertime with all the moves that Grunwald made that we're deep now. We've got a lot of depth, and that's going to be the strength this year of our team."

The Knicks have amassed an Eastern Conference-best 14-4 record without Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert for any of those games. The 112-92 win in Miami came without those two and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, the latter because of a lacerated left middle finger. He is questionable for Saturday night's game against the Bulls.

The Heat, which also lost this week to the Washington Wizards (now 2-14), isn't playing well. Still, the Knicks' win was the kind that could send a message that they'll be in the hunt all season.

"I think the biggest thing people learned is we're a deep team," Chandler said. "We've got depth. That was the thing we struggled with all last [season]. Even when we had every player healthy, we still didn't have enough. Teams would wear us down in the fourth quarter. We would struggle. Now we've got guys who can come off the bench and contribute."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Minus Anthony, Raymond Felton -- whom Grunwald acquired when the Knicks decided to let Jeremy Lin sign with Houston -- scored 27 points and hit a career-high six three-pointers against Miami. The Knicks hit 18 in the game.

They know they can't rely on three-pointers all the time. But some constants this season have been the way they move the ball, take care of it and defend.

That comes from often playing two point guards together between Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, and fielding an older team with players who have been in big games and big series. They've already had their big paydays, too, so winning is the only thing driving them.

Chandler, Kidd and Rasheed Wallace own championship rings. They also are the Knicks' defensive and vocal leaders.

Kidd and Prigioni are good at settling things when the Knicks appear to get rattled. Ronnie Brewer is playing good defense. J.R. Smith, who hit the winning buzzer-beater in Charlotte to open this three-game trip, has had a huge impact with his overall play. Steve Novak continues to bury big three-pointers. Even seldom-used James White had a seven-point night against the Heat, playing 17 minutes in Anthony's absence.

"I was telling people the Knicks were going to be good," Miami forward Chris Bosh said. "I felt they were going to be a very good team and were going to challenge us. I was thinking about them all summer because I know they were thinking about us."

Coach Mike Woodson will have to find ways to keep the Knicks clicking, particularly when Stoudemire and Shumpert come back. On the surface, though, when that happens, the Knicks should become even deeper and more dangerous.

"We feel like we're a good team," Chandler said. "We feel like we can beat anybody."

You also may be interested in: