There's actually some good news to report from the land of perpetual dysfunction known as the New York Knicks.
Tyson Chandler is going to be named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday for the job he did both individually and as a leader of the defensive turnaround on the team this season. It's a well-deserved honor for Chandler, particularly because he was able to improve the defense even when Mike D'Antoni was running the team.
Chandler's award is something to celebrate, but it also comes with a twinge of sadness. As we wallow in the two losses in Miami and the sad, sad mess that Amar'e Stoudemire created for himself, it's hard not to see Chandler's award as a sign of the Knicks season that could have been.
The best of the Knicks this season seemed capable of beating anyone in the league, whether by following Carmelo Anthony's Hero Ball or using defense to spur offense like in the old days or simply overwhelming teams with their depth. Even with coaching issues and injury problems all over the place, the Knicks were still a winning team and there was a clutch of losses to bad teams that stood in the way of an Atlantic Division title.
Those thoughts might have tinkly piano music playing in the background now, but they actually give you a way to keep some faith as the season comes crashing to the ground. Things can be better, you told yourself, because we saw how good they can be when the team isn't riddled with injuries and constantly reinventing itself.
And then came Stoudemire's punch and that illusion shattered.
Stoudemire's reaction was too big to be the result of one loss to Miami. It's the reaction of a man who has buried his brother, seen his body betray him and felt his role on the basketball court be taken away from him finally snapping.
The idea that the Knicks are better off without him right now makes sense, as long as you ignore all the other injuries to their team and the clear advantage the Heat have if both teams are playing small.
We can pretty much write off this season, then, and start thinking about the future. That's where things get really scary.
The Anthony-Chandler-Stoudemire trio was an abject failure this season, especially on offense, and it is going to take a lot of scheming to figure out a way to make it work out. A real point guard would help, but the presence of one isn't going to change the fundamental nature of who Anthony and Stoudemire are as players at this point in their career.
Give them a full offseason, albeit one that will likely see Anthony and Chandler in the Olympics, and maybe things shake out in a more positive way. If they don't, the Knicks will have to reinvent themselves on the fly once again and there's not much reason to think the 10th time will be the charm on that front.