By John Schmeelk
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With news breaking left and right that the Knicks are considering using the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups and signing Tyson Chandler, here are the many factors affecting that decision.
First of all, if the Knicks decide to go in this direction, there will be no cap space to acquire Chris Paul next offseason. Over the last couple of days, it became clear to the Knicks that they had no chance of acquiring Chris Paul in a trade (no shock there) and that he wasn’t going to take the necessary pay cut to come to the Knicks as a free agent. This could have easily happened via back channels.
As I detailed in this space yesterday, the Knicks roster would have been bare if they used their cap space next year on any one player. New York can avoid this scenario by acquiring Tyson Chandler this season. They offer their mid-level exception for multiple years both this season and next season, putting more talent around a core of Stoudemire, Chandler and Anthony. Multi-year mid-level contracts can net very useful players, giving the Knicks a more complete roster that could be of championship caliber. They then become more attractive to other veteran free agents looking to make a run at a title.
The Knicks have also apparently decided that it is more important to add a legit seven footer that can rebound and defend rather than a play-making point guard. Considering their defensive deficiencies the last few years, it’s a point that’s hard to argue. Big men are rare and never cheap. Carmelo Anthony does not need a point guard to score his points, though it will be interesting to see how Stoudemire is affected without an accomplished pick and roll partner.
Then again, the Knicks can now use their multi-year full mid-level exception on a point guard to complete a starting lineup that would look like: Free Agent PG/Fields/Anthony/Stoudemire/Chandler. Not bad at all.
As for the rumors of a Stoudemire for Chris Paul trade: it’s dumb on many levels. For one, leaking that you are willing to trade a star player is risky unless you are actually going to deal him. Second, Chris Paul’s knee is far more concerning to me than any of Stoudemire’s injuries. If Paul was a shell of himself in three seasons it would not be shocking. Besides, the reason you get Paul is to play with Stoudemire. Paul working with Anthony and Chandler is not nearly as attractive a combination. The Knicks should not make that swap.
Finally, I’m not completely sold on Tyson Chandler as a player. He mailed it in when he played for New Orleans, and played his best on his contract year, always a huge red flag. Would he come to the Knicks and start playing lazy again? It’s possible. He also has some injury problems that always seem to crop up. It is not a home run, but I think it puts the Knicks roster in a better position than praying for Chris Paul next offseason. Will it happen? We’ll see. But if it does, I think it’s a good thing.
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Are the Knicks better off signing Chandler than trading away top players for Paul? Let Schmeelk know in the comments below…