As originally reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks have reacquired center Tyson Chandler in a trade from the New York Knicks.
Coming back to New York is center Samuel Dalembert, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Shane Larkin, veteran sharpshooter Jose Calderon and two second-round draft picks (#34, #51) in Thursday’s NBA Draft. That’s quite a return for Chandler and Raymond Felton, both of whom struggled this past season to gain their best form due to injuries early and inconsistent play throughout. Not to mention that Felton has become a pariah in New York—someone that the Knicks faithful have been itching to see walk out the door. If the Knicks keep all of the acquired assets, they save $3 million in salary cap space this summer but lose a little over $5 million for the summer of 2015. Even so, that cost isn’t debilitating for New York and covers several pieces that could be included in future plans.
We know what the veterans Dalembert and Calderon are. Calderon can be a detriment at times on the defensive end but he’s making the money Dallas needed to get off the books in order to make this deal happen. Despite his cap hit of around $7 million on average for three seasons, Calderon is reliable ball handler and sniper from beyond the arc that can fit in Derek Fisher’s triangle offense (that’s fun to say). Phil Jackson and Fisher will just try to get what they can from the journeyman Dalembert, whose money should come off the books after one season or sooner if the Knicks choose to trade him or buy him out.
Ellington and Larkin played sparingly but the young point guard is intriguing for New York. Larkin battled injuries and inability to crack the Dallas rotation but still has the upside that made him a top-20 (#18) of Pat Riley and the Heat a year ago. If he stays on the roster, he’ll get more minutes to show whether or not he has the goods to be part of the future plan. However, early indications are that the Knicks are attempting to move Larkin and [possibly that #34 pick to fiddle their way into first round or perhaps make a different move.
Either way, it looks as though Dalembert and/or Larkin could be moved shortly.
Phil Jackson isn’t waiting for Carmelo Anthony to make his decision to see which direction this team is going; instead, the thirteen-time champion is continuing to lay the groundwork for the future with his own hands. Consider this move just another stroke of Jax’s paintbrush as he attempts to paint a new picture of New York Knicks basketball.
In his first major transaction as president of basketball operations, Jackson has already begun to reverse the trend of terrible Knicks roster moves. The Zen Master provides some short-term financial relief and unloads Felton (a victory in itself) while acquiring a couple of decent veterans, two draft picks and a young point guard. No guarantee any of those things turn out to help the Knicks down the road but then again, neither was Chandler’s $15 million this season. Either the assets acquired or what they’re used to obtain are of more relevance to the organization than keeping Chandler for this season, that’s for certain. The transaction even makes this upcoming NBA Draft somewhat relevant here in New York.
The consensus was that this season was a throw-away for the Knicks anyway, that being one of the reasons Carmelo wouldn’t want to return. Interestingly enough, this could end up making the Knicks better in the long run. Since the Mavs and Knicks are both in the running for Melo, one is compelled to wonder whether this pushes or pulls him in either direction. It’s worth noting the irony in Dallas’ attempt to help lure Anthony by acquiring Chandler while the Knicks are doing the same by trading the seven-footer. In actuality, it would turn out that less to do with Tyson and more to do with the position each team is in personnel-wise and financially. Just something to think about.
Where we stand now it feels like New York is the beneficiary of the Mavericks’ hope to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time with Chandler anchoring the paint as he did in 2010-11. In addition, Dallas is trying to put themselves in position to get Carmelo or LeBron and believes this transaction helps them in that quest. Regardless of the circumstances leading up to the deal, this seems to be a transaction that benefits both parties and one that continues to show that this Knicks team is going to be entirely different under the tutelage of Jackson than it was previously. That’s something that the orange and blue can smile about.
Ultimately, from a Knicks standpoint you have to chalk this down as a win. It hasn’t been often that Knick fans are actually satisfied after a personnel decision but there’s reason to be here, so enjoy it. This team and organization continues to slowly but surely move in the right direction and we haven’t heard James Dolan’s name once, which is always a good sign. Jeez, I hope I didn’t jinx it. Now it’s back to the Carmelo Anthony waiting game but no matter the outcome we won’t be waiting long. Phil will be right around the corner ready to implement the next phase of his New York Knicks overhaul.