Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks c

Report: Knicks about to land Tyson Chandler

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If the Knicks are going to compete with the Heat and Bulls as the elite in the East during the next few years, they were going to have to find a way to play much better defense.

They may be very close to solving that problem — but it comes with a price. Potentially a steep price.

The Knicks are very close to a deal that will land them defensive center Tyson Chandler, according to multiple reports. Sources told Marc Stein of ESPN that the deal is “98 percent” done. That despite a huge offer and effort from the Golden State Warriors — even the Warriors are saying Chandler is likely to go to the Knicks, reports Matt Steinmetz at CSNBayArea.com.

The problem is that to create room for Chandler the Knicks would have to get Chauncey Billups off the books — a development that has stunned Billups, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sums this all up well.

To add Chandler, the Knicks will either use their amnesty clause to waive Chauncey Billups and his $14.2 million salary or they will trade him, sources said. The Knicks have privately told people that if they trade Billups – who has said he doesn’t want to leave New York – it will be to a “good” team. If the Dallas Mavericks do a sign-and-trade with Chandler, they could conceivably get Billups in return.

If the Knicks amnesty Billups, teams under the salary cap can bid on him and claim him off waivers. Billups’ agent, Andy Miller, said his client is upset about that prospect.

“He’s irate under the circumstances,” Miller said. “He felt this would be his final destination, and he was promised that he would be playing for a team that was going to be competing for the playoffs. He has no intention of being open-minded about any possible situation where a team would claim him off waivers unless it’s a team he chooses himself. Buyer beware.”

Sucks for Billups, but either way this is a good move for the Knicks. With their style of play — Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense — and their personnel, the Knicks need a defensive stopper to control the paint. Chandler can do that as well as anyone, and he runs the floor well for a big man. Chandler is good on the pick-and-roll as well, which could add an interesting offensive wrinkle with Carmelo Anthony.

The question becomes who plays point guard for the Knicks? Is Toney Douglas really your starter now? With Iman Shumpert behind him?

Then there is the Chris Paul to New York situation — if the Knicks sign Chandler to a multi-year deal the will not have the room to sign Chris Paul as a free agent this summer (they would have maybe the mid-level exception at best).

Let me repeat that again for Knicks fans — sign Chandler and you CANNOT IN ANY WAY get Chris Paul as a free agent next summer.

The Knicks are still trying to work a trade for Paul and have suggested an Amare Stoudemire for Paul trade, Stein reports at ESPN. That is not happening. The Hornets want to get younger and rebuild if they trade Paul, Stoudemire is older, expensive, and with a history of injuries. He makes no sense for the Hornets at all. They will not do that deal.

But the Knicks seem intent on Chandler. And that is going to make them a much better team.

As a side note, without Chandler there is no way the Mavericks will repeat as champions. Unless you think Brendan Haywood can be the new Tyson Chandler… in which case we would tell you its time to switch medications because this one is making you delirious.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.