Tyson: Knicks can be top-5 defensive squad

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Not long ago, if someone called the Knicks one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, you would have questioned their sanity.

With Mike D'Antoni on the sidelines, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the starting five and no intimidating presence in the paint, the Knicks were near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive metric.

But that all changed last season, thanks in part to Tyson Chandler and Mike Woodson.

Now, the Knicks expect to get stops. In fact, Chandler thinks they will end up as a top-5 defensive team this season.

"We should be in the top 5," Chandler said on Tuesday. "If you're in the top 10 in the league you're doing a good job. ... But our goals should be bigger than that. This team, with the unit that we have, the talent, the athleticism and plus the knowledge, we should be in the top 5."

The Knicks finished last season ranked 11th in points allowed (94.7) and 10th in opponent field goal percentage (44.2%). They ranked fifth in defensive efficiency, a measurement of points allowed per 100 possessions.

It's worth noting that New York gave up five fewer points per game after Woodson took over for D'Antoni in mid-March.

In the offseason, the Knicks added defensive-minded players like Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby to the mix. They are also expected to bring Rasheed Wallace into camp.

"It's definitely different around here," said Chandler, the reigning defensive player of the year. "All the guys they brought in are defensive-minded."

Woodson noted that Camby and Wallace in particular should help the Knicks clamp down -- especially if one of the Knicks' bigs suffers an injury.

Last year, the Knicks allowed more than 112 points in each of the four regular season games Chandler missed.

"Last year we really got caught with our pants down when the bigs got hurt," Woodson said. "We really didn’t have nowhere to go but to young guys. That was no knock against Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan (both dealt to Houston in the Camby deal). They were young guys that were trying to figure out what we were trying to do and how to win at a high level. ... This go-around we’ve got veteran guys, enough pieces, that I feel good (that) if a big goes down (another player) can step in."

Another player that should be available to step in is Iman Shumpert. Shumpert is considered one of the top young perimeter defenders in the league. The Knicks hope to have him back sometime between December and February as he rehabs from offseason ACL surgery.

Chandler believes that, as long as everyone stays healthy, the Knicks will be known as a defensive stalwart by the time the playoffs roll around -- a description that couldn't have applied to New York in recent seasons.

"I think we have to (become known as a defensive team) because we have to defend and rebound the ball if we want to accomplish the things we want to accomplish," said Chandler, who turned 30 on Tuesday. "That has to be a no-nonsense type deal. You come out, you put on a Knicks jersey, you've got to play defense."

NO RASHEED YET: Free agent Rasheed Wallace has not signed with the Knicks yet. He was at the team facility again on Tuesday, but no deal has been worked out.

"We’re hoping (it happens soon)," Woodson said. "He doesn’t have a contract yet. So we’re just kind of in the waiting mode to see what we’re going to do.

"There’s no delay," the coach added. "We’re just trying to get a contract together. It hadn’t been done yet, so right now he’s not a part of our team."

Assuming Wallace signs, the Knicks will have 20 players in camp and 14 under guaranteed deals. That means only one of the six players under contracts not fully guaranteed will make the roster.

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