During the New York Knicks recent loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN, Jay Bilas, a college basketball analyst who was calling the game with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen, said he is surprised the Knicks haven’t explored trading center Tyson Chandler.
The Knicks signed Chandler in 2011 and he has been the heart of the team’s defense since, while also being the team’s most efficient rebounder. Knicks fans as well as NBA fans in general, understand Chandler’s value to the team. But what would be his value to another team?
The Knicks are currently on the outside looking into the 2014 playoff picture. Even if the Knicks manage to finish in the top eight of the East, they are unlikely to advance far. And unless they finish somewhere between third and sixth place, they will find themselves eliminated early by the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.
Chandler, because of everything he can do on the floor and his leadership off the court, might be the Knicks’ most valuable and important player. But it might be in the organization’s best interest to move him.
The Knicks do not have a first-round pick in 2014 or 2016. They have a limited number of young players on the roster and are forever going to be over the salary cap. The Knicks should try and trade Chandler for a “couple” of young big men and a draft pick. At least, they should get a young forward/center and a future first-round pick.
The need to stay competitive and win in New York is always a big deal and the word “rebuild” is frowned upon. This trade would not lead to a rebuild. Just a simple retool — almost a reset. The Knicks trade one of their top players, get younger and perhaps even healthier and set themselves up positively for the future. They can free up future cap space and add multiple young players, including the draft pick.
If the Knicks were to seriously shop Chandler, there would be no shortage of suitors. Almost every team in the league should be interested in Chandler. He can turn around the fortunes of any franchise, just like he did the Knicks.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul loved Chandler in New Orleans. Perhaps they can reunite in Los Angeles? The Dallas Mavericks won an NBA title with Chandler and have needed a center ever since. The Los Angeles Lakers can swap Pau Gasol and get Chandler, to reunite with former coach Mike D’Anoni and fill the void left by Dwight Howard. Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers, desperate to win now, can trade some young assets and future picks. The Atlanta Hawks can afford to take on his contract and he can replace the injured Al Horford in the short-term and long-term as Horford can move to his more natural position of power forward.
Again, there would be no shortage of suitors for Tyson Chandler. But this is a big decision and a big deal for the Knicks, who right now need all the help they can get. But in the short-term and long-term, it is hard to see where help will come from. Trading Chandler can be the first domino to fall to benefit the Knicks long-term.