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.
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.