With the announcement five days ago LaMarcus Aldridge will undergo season-ending hip injury, Knicks center Tyson Chandler has become a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Chandler was named as one of the 20 finalists for the Olympic Team named in January. Team USA has just one center on the roster, Dwight Howard, and he’s out indefinitely with a bulging disk. That also bodes well for Chandler’s presence on the club.
Chandler, who had 20 points and seven rebounds in the Knicks’ 118-110 victory over the Celtics Tuesday night at the Garden, is a candidate for the defensive player of the year award and roundly saluted for his leadership on Dallas’ NBA championship-winning team and this season’s Knicks club. Chandler also has a great supporter in former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who will return as Team USA assistant.
Team USA CEO Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski are evaluating the 20 players during their regular season and Chandler fits the bill in every category, especially intangibles and character. Chandler had a good showing on Team USA in the 2010 World Championships. The 12 roster members will be selected in late May.
“I feel like I have a great opportunity to play,’’ Chandler told The Post. “It all comes down to what they feel jells and fits with each other.’’
The Blazers’ Aldridge would have been the favorite as Howard’s backup, if he was healthy. Last week, it was announced he would need arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight labral tear. A surgery date has not been set, but sources said it takes two to four months to heal.
The Olympic team will assemble in Las Vegas for training camp the first week in mid-July and the Games begin in late July.
Mike Bibby saw extended action for the first time since January. Bibby had just three points but added six assists. Baron Davis, who interim coach Mike Woodson said was battling a stomach flu, played just 18 minutes. He didn’t have a point and had just one assist.
The Knicks make their last visit to New Jersey Wednesday night to face the Nets at the Prudential Center. The rivalry will heat up next season when the Nets get to Brooklyn.
Tyson Chandler, Knicks, Knicks, Team USA, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Olympic team, Olympic team, Mike Krzyzewski, Jerry Colangelo, Mike Woodson