Why the Knicks and Mavericks Both Won the Tyson Chandler Deal
The New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks did us all a favor on Wednesday by converting the first concrete move of the NBA offseason. While the rumor mill was running rampant with talk of who’s going to draft whom where, which team would win the services of what’s-his-face or you-know-who, and the (estimated) billionth iteration of a trade that could net some team that-other-guy, the Knicks and Mavs made a real-life, bonafide trade.
Sources suggest that ESPN’s Trade Machine may not have even been involved.
In an even stranger turn of events, the deal seems to work pretty well for both teams. Considering the Knicks have a history of financially reckless moves and the Mavericks and their ostentatious owner, Mark Cuban, seem to perpetually swing for the biggest of fences, the fact that these two squads made a move that was equal parts noteworthy, understated, and mutually beneficial is nothing short of amazing.
Why It Works for the Mavericks
When the Mavs let Chandler walk in free agency the summer directly following their 2011 title, they let their hopes of repeating go with him. Since that time, the Mavs have made the playoffs in only two of the subsequent three seasons and got bounced in the first round both times they made it.
The biggest drop off for the squad has been on the defensive end, where they have gone from having the 8th best defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) in the league at 105.0 in their championship season to coming in 22nd at 108.7 this past year. That was the worst mark among playoff teams this season and yes, that includes the Eastern Conference.
Call me crazy, but perhaps the guy who won Defensive Player of the Year the very next year after leaving Dallas had something to do with that.
With this move, the Mavs get a mulligan on the whole Chandler thing and hope that they can once again enjoy the improvement that teams have shown in the past on the defensive end when adding him to their roster. Basically, every time that Chandler has joined another team in his career, said team has made a definitive leap in defensive rating from the season prior.
|Team||Pre-Chandler DefRtg||League Rank||Post-Acquisition DefRtg||League Rank|
Apart from the defensive aspect, Chandler is simply a guy that players enjoy playing with. Dirk Nowitzki was reportedly ecstatic about the move and has always been vocal about his displeasure that Dallas didn’t retain Chandler’s services in 2011. If he’s as happy with this move as he seems to be, it’s not hard to believe that he’d be willing to give Dallas a favorable hometown discount in his upcoming contract negotiations in order to pave the way for them to be major players in this year’s free agent market.
To that end, Chandler is also a personal favorite of unrestricted free agent Carmelo Anthony, who just so happens to have Dallas on his shortlist of possible free agent destinations. Even if the combination of Tyson and Dirk doesn’t sway Melo, it’s bound to have an impact on at least one impact free agent. The Mavs have a chance to bounce back into the West’s elite, largely thanks to this deal.
It’s hard to call any deal where you take on two years of a declining Raymond Felton a victory, but Chandler’s potential impact on Dirk’s contract negotiations and the team's ability to reload might prove to be well worth it. Worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work, Chandler’s $14.6 million comes off the books after next season and the Mavericks will have all the flexibility in the world going into 2015’s free agency period.
Why It Works for the Knicks
Well, first of all, they got rid of Raymond Felton. At almost $4 million per year over the next two, he would have been a fairly affordable starting point guard for the Knicks, but the rising age and declining efficiency and ability to protect the ball were causing him to fall out of favor in New York. Particularly when you consider that if Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher hope to implement the triangle offense, they’ll need more from the point guard position.
Enter Jose Calderon, the best part of this deal for the Knicks. Jose’s 3.66 assist-to-turnover ratio during the 2013-14 season was third among point guards, behind Chris Paul and now-teammate Pablo Prigioni. Couple that with a fantastic 58.4% effective field goal percentage (fifth best in the whole league) and you’ve got an ideal triangle guard that can pass effectively and shoot when needed. Compared to Felton, the upgrade is obvious.
The Knicks are left with a fairly sizable gap in the middle with Chandler gone, but considering Melo’s eminent departure from the Big Apple, a New York rebuilding project seems to be the plan anyway. Dalembert is still a serviceable center and can eat up most of Chandler’s minutes and Andrea Bargnani could get yet another last chance to prove that he can contribute on an NBA team in a system that favors his stretch-big skill set. With most of New York’s scoring options gone, the fact that Calderon was the primary distributor back in Toronto when Bargnani averaged a career-high 21.4 points per game in 2010-11 could bode well for the oft-maligned Italian.
Otherwise, the Knicks will be happy to have something they rarely do: cheap youth. Larkin and Ellington didn’t tip the scale in Dallas, but they have inexpensive contracts and Larkin is only a year removed from being a top-20 draft pick. There’s upside in having two 20 year olds in the fold of a rebuilding team, at the very least.
As for the two draft picks, sure they’re in the second round, but at least it puts New York at the table where they had previously traded away their seat. The grab bag of bench players and second-round draft picks wouldn’t have gone far in Dallas, but it gives New York some options (Dalembert and Larkin are already in rumors to be moved again). Not to mention, the deal overall actually helped New York cut down their massive payroll. Imagine, a deal happened where the New York Knicks saved money and gained draft picks. The Phil Jackson era is shaping up to be very different, indeed.
There’s almost always a clear winner to a trade, but this one breaks about as even as one could imagine. The Knicks start their rebuild admirably by shedding costs and dead weight (sorry, Ray), adding youth, and grabbing a criminally underrated point guard that fits perfectly into their new system in Jose Calderon. The Mavs get a do-over on Chandler and make Dallas an even more enticing destination for free agents in the process. The move is a perfect start in Dallas' bid to win now while Dirk is still kicking butt (nERD of 12.7 last year, seventh-best in the whole league at age 35). Between Thursday’s draft and Tuesday’s free agency, there are a lot of dominoes left to fall in the NBA offseason. At least the first one was good for all involved.