Even though free agency is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 2 pm, the first bombshell of the offseason dropped this afternoon, and it involved the New York Knicks.
According to various sources, the New York Knicks are the leaders to sign Dallas Mavericks free agent center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks are looking to sign him to a 4 year deal believed to be worth around 14-15 million per year. Supposedly, Chandler turned down a 4 year, 60 million dollars deal from the Golden State Warriors.
How the Knicks will be able to sign Chandler with all their cap room tied up on Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups? New York can work out a S&T deal with the Mavericks (and perhaps a third team) that will send Chauncey Billups in exchange for the rights to Chandler. Or they can use the amnesty exception on Billups which would give the Knicks around 12 million dollars in cap room to sign Chandler. If the team needs more cap room, they can send Turiaf to a team under the cap to free up another 4 million. That would give the Knicks around 16 million dollars to work with on signing Chandler.
A move like this might signal that the Knicks front office realizes that it would be unlikely to acquire Chris Paul this offseason. One has to wonder who the true architect of this deal is, given the front office contains Glen Grunwald and Mark Warkentien (and of course the spectre of Donnie Walsh remains as well).
Should the deal go through, acquiring Tyson Chandler would fit an obvious need for the team, as it provides a major defensive force behind Melo and Amare. The Knicks would be getting a player who was the backbone of the Mavericks’ NBA title team. Chandler led the NBA last season in True Shooting Percentage (.697), and Offensive Rating (131.0). Chandler was also among the league leaders in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (12.2%), Defensive Rebounding Percentage (26.6%), Total Rebounding Percentage (19.7%), and Defensive Rating (101.6). The downside is that Chandler has been injury-prone recently, failing to play 52 games in 2 of his last 3 seasons.
Additionally the move would leave the Knicks with the passing challenged Toney Douglas and the unproven rookie Iman Shumpert manning the point. New York could theoretically trade either Carmelo or Amar’e for Chris Paul, grab another point guard in free agency (perhaps with their mid-level), or wait until 2012 and hope for Steve Nash to come at a discount.
At this time nothing is official yet, and even if this goes through, the Knicks would still need to address some other issues in free agency. But if the deal does go through, New York would be filling their biggest need.