Last season, both Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas went down for good with respective injuries. These absences created big voids for the Knicks, but such injuries can arguably be attributed to the fact that both players were playing more minutes than they should have. They simply broke down.
In the case of Marcus Camby, New York hoped to limit his minutes along the way en route to preserving him for the playoffs, but previously nagging injuries prevented them for doing so.
Taking all of this into consideration, Coach Mike Woodson has been consulting with doctors as they suggest 10 minute per game limits for both Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. As a means of hoping to preserve them even further for when things really count, the coach has entered both big men into a platoon, alternating them back and forth between every other game and/or day.
The postseason is usually when things matter most, so it's important to manage Stoudemire and Martin effectively enough to benefit from their impact when the time comes.
That said, Martin's time may have to come months earlier than initially expected.
Preserving veterans for the postseason isn't the worst strategy in the world. Many successful teams exercise such a strategy. Even so, a team like the Knicks will have to actually make the playoffs first in order to benefit from it.
With the team struggling through a 1-3 start, and Tyson Chandler out 4-6 weeks with a leg fracture following Tuesday night's game against the Bobcats, there's a cause for concern.
No, the world is not ending. There's no need to panic after just four games. Still, if the Knicks want to regain any form of respectable competitiveness, the time is now to figure things out. And a solution needs to come rather quickly if New York wants to pick up the slack without the help of Chandler.
The only true center the team has on the roster besides Chandler is former Thunder prospect Cole Aldrich. The young gun is yet to have appeared in a game this season. Through three NBA seasons, Aldrich has played rather sparingly and hasn't appeared in more than 45 games in a given year.
Needless to say, he's won't be savior, let alone a worthwhile solution. At best, he'll eat up some minutes along the way in Chandler's absence.
With very limited resources, who will Coach Woodson and the Knicks turn to? There's already talk about starting Andrea Bragnani at center. This is not a good idea either.
Instead, it's time for the Knicks to rip the bandaid off and unleash Martin from his chains and the apparent minute/game limit. Saving him for the postseason may ultimately prove to have a very strong shining light at the end of the tunnel, but that (postseason) light may very well go out if New York doesn't have a worthwhile option at center over the next month or so.
Last season, during a similar starting stint while both Chandler and Carmelo Anthony were sidelined, Martin stepped up and proved he can still score the basketball, which is great. But at this point, the Knicks don't even need him to do that.
The 35 year old is an energy player with an immediate impact, as evidenced by his continuously high plus/minus numbers. The Knicks are better when Martin is on the court. He's explosive on offense, and just as intimidating defensively, too. He thrives on being able to crash the boards and assert himself physically.
If New York wants to remain competitive and save themselves from early distracting talk as to whether or not Coach Woodson deserves to keep his job, Martin stands to be the exact type of injection of life they need, even at this early juncture in the season.
Preserving a team's veterans for the postseason is one thing, but actually securing a spot in the playoffs is obviously another. If the Knicks ultimately have to "sacrifice" what Martin can provide them with later on, it'll prove to be a necessary sacrifice. The time to stay on top of things is now.