After narrowly missing his shot at a spot on the Knicks' opening night roster this fall (in favor of Chris Smith), Jeremy Tyler returned from a nagging injury to make his BayHawks debut on Sunday night.
Playing in his first form of formal competition since NBA Summer League, Tyler displayed some rust and slowness out the gates, but still showed signs of that rugged physicality in a big man that New York has obviously come to appreciate. Though he finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds, the young gun also committed five turnovers and five fouls in just 27 minutes.
There's no denying Tyler's talent level and potential to hold his own as an NBA player, but the fact of the matter remains he'll likely need a few games under his belt with Erie to truly get back into the swing of things. At the very least, that's what his first performance of the season (in a BayHawks' 97-90 loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants) suggested.
Fortunately, New York has all the time in the world to wait. Despite a 3-13 record entering Tuesday, Tyler doesn't exactly represent any clear cut savior of sorts. Rushing him back to the NBA level isn't going to instantly change the Knicks' fortunes for the better.
With all this in mind, one has to wonder just how long Tyler will remain in the NBA D-League this season. Originally, there were talks that New York would have potentially considered the big man as a short-term solution for the injured Tyson Chandler. The latter's been out four weeks already now, and it appears as though he'll return in a matter of a couple of weeks anyway.
Is there a need to call Tyler up at this point? Probably not, especially considering the return of Chandler would present his team with quite the crowded front court, should Tyler be in town as well. Frankly, it doesn't appear the latter is ready to make a meaningful impact just yet.
For what it's worth, the young gun has been referred to as a center in the eyes of Knicks' brass, and he started at the five on Sunday night. That said, on other teams, Tyler has instead been more often considered a power forward. If New York envisions him as a more natural backup center for Chandler, it'd be smart to give him more time to transition into playing the position everyday.
Still, the fact that Tyler has hit the hardwood for the BayHawks already is a good sign for everyone involved. With Smith currently on assignment in Erie and Tyler starting to come into his own again, it'll become increasingly easier for the Knicks to call the big man up, and instead tell Smith to remain with the BayHawks (waive him) on a more permanent basis, if so desired.