There’s little hope for the New York Knicks to make the playoffs this season. And if you’re a Knicks fan, accepting this and hoping for success two or three seasons down the road is the wiser thing to do. And though he likely won’t be on the team, center Tyson Chandler will play an essential role in making this happen.
At 21-36 with 15 of their final 25 games on the road, the Knicks are 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In recent weeks, they’ve lost to the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings, which has essentially sunk the Knicks to rock bottom. If their play on the court wasn’t enough to get them there, Raymond Felton‘s arrest Tuesday morning sealed the deal.
So where does Chandler come into play? Assuming Carmelo Anthony leaves in free agency this offseason, which you have to anticipate happening now, the Knicks won’t have the ability to replace him thanks to Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani‘s contracts, which will make up roughly $50 million of the Knicks’ salaries next season. Several other players with guaranteed contracts in the 2014-15 season will bring the Knicks over the salary cap.
The difference between Chandler and the other two Knicks big men is that Chandler is a desirable player. He has won an NBA championship and is one of the best defensive big men in the game. Teams would line up for his services.
And while Chandler hasn’t put up the best numbers so far this season, which has taken a bit off of his trade stock, he has performed admirably of late. If Chandler continues to play the rest of the season the way he has played post All-Star break, where he has put up close to 13 rebounds per game and two blocks in five contests, the Knicks would be able trade him this offseason for a substantial sum.
Bargnani and Stoudemire are going to be nearly impossible to trade, and if the Knicks are going into next season with all three highly paid big men in tow, it will be another disastrous season. If they can turn Chandler into a draft pick or two or an above average point guard, the Knicks’ future will be a lot brighter. Maybe it will even happen as soon as 2015 when they will have a lot of money to spend.