An incredibly unlikely confluence of events has placed Chris Copeland more central to the plans of the New York Knicks than anybody could have expected, and, let’s be honest, than anybody except for Copeland hoped.
What is fascinating about the way this has played out is that Copeland’s performance on Saturday night, a 34-point eruption in a 109-98 loss to the Celtics, was probably the least significant reason that Copeland will be on the Knicks when they open their season against the Brooklyn Nets on November 1.
There’s the Amar’e Stoudemire injury, first and foremost. Stoudemire will miss an estimated 2-3 weeks, say the Knicks. That takes Stoudemire’s recover into the regular season, even by the most optimistic reading of that timetable.
His injury is a ruptured cyst behind his left knee, which is apparently a symptom of something more significant: an arthritic knee. Accordingly, an offensive weapon at the power forward spot (when that isn’t Carmelo Anthony) as insurance is suddenly far more relevant to the Knicks. Hello, Chris Copeland.
But wait, there’s more!
Monday morning, coach Mike Woodson described Rasheed Wallace as closer to returning than Marcus Camby. Think about what that means. Who is the backup center, if not Camby? Either Wallace or Kurt Thomas, neither of whom can be expected to play extended minutes, and both of whom constitute the sum total of power forward minutes other than Anthony with Stoudemire out.
If Wallace and Thomas need to be the backup centers, then who is left to play the power forward spot? Everything’s coming up Chris Copeland.
Obviously, all of this can change quickly. Hopefully, Stoudemire returns to health shortly. (That statement’s been used before.) Camby could be back soon, too. And perhaps once Wallace is cleared to play, he’ll be able to start playing large minutes. He is well-rested.
But all of these could bes, so far, haven’t happened. Meanwhile, Copeland has played, and produced.
For now, anyway, Chris Copeland matters. And the fact that he’s played so well is a relief; imagine if he’d dome with his preseason chance what Mychel Thompson has done with his.