The NBA offseason is officially underway as the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks made the first big trade of the summer on Wednesday. The deal sent Tyson Chandler back to Dallas along with Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round draft picks. Chandler may be the best player in the trade, but the Knicks by far got the better end of the deal.
When Phil Jackson took over as president of basketball operations for New York, everyone was well aware that things were about to drastically change in the Big Apple. This trade shows that Jackson intends to completely wipe the slate clean and start fresh with this team. Chandler is a fantastic player, but his enormous contract was tying the Knicks down financially. Due to the fact that it was likely Chandler would look elsewhere to play once he became a free agent next summer, the Knicks were able to get some value now for the former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year. Chandler’s play will be missed, but not his contract.
Another reason the trade was a success for the Knicks was because New York was able to move Felton off the roster. A combination of poor play on the court and off the court legal issues this season sealed Felton’s fate that his days in New York were over. Not only were the Knicks able to ship Felton out, but New York also upgraded at the point guard position with Calderon. Calderon’s hefty contract is probably the main blemish to this deal, but he is an all-around better player than Felton and will probably step in as the starting point guard now. Along with Calderon, Larkin is an exciting point guard who can provide an offensive spark off the bench for the Knicks.
Dalembert is nowhere near the talent or skill level of Chandler at center, but he may never even play a game for New York. Dalembert has a team option for this coming season, and it is very possible that the Knicks will decline to exercise the option because it would save New York $2 million in salary next season. As for Ellington, he is simply an off-the-bench shooter.
Possibly the biggest reason why the Knicks got the best of this trade was due to the two draft picks New York was able to acquire. Now, all of a sudden the Knicks have three picks in the second round of Thursday’s draft. These draft picks give the Knicks the opportunity to begin building a new foundation for the future. The most intriguing aspect of this is that the Knicks are now a little closer to getting under the salary cup. By shedding Chandler’s contract, New York now has more flexibility to consider options such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo, just to name a few. And of course, Jackson would not have pulled the trade if he did not believe it would help convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York. Needless to say, the Knicks still need to get much more financially comfortable, but it is a step in the right direction.
On Dallas’ end, the trade indicates one thing: the Mavericks want to win now. By bringing back Chandler, the Mavericks will significantly improve in their two weakest areas: defense and rebounding. Not to mention, the chemistry that already exists between Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki and head coach Rick Carlisle should make Dallas even better next season. In addition, the trade financially gives Dallas an opportunity to pursue some big free agents this summer. However, the only possible way Dallas gets the better end of this deal is if Chandler turns the clock back to the 2011 NBA Finals and helps lead the Mavericks back to championship contender status.