By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks surprised pretty much every fan, beat writer and fan this weekend by finalizing a sign and trade for Tyson Chandler. Putting everything together, in effect, the Knicks decided Tyson Chandler for four seasons was more valuable than a combination of Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, and Andy Rautins for one. In the process, the Knicks also gave up their 2012 cap space, which many thought they could use on the likes of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, or Deron Williams.
First, let’s deal with the cap space. As this Chris Paul saga unfolded, and the intentions of both Howard and Williams became clear, any hope the Knicks had of acquiring one of those three players appeared fairly slim. There’s something about hope that’s very appealing to fans, giving them the opportunity to dream about fantasies that will never come to pass. The Knicks decided to go for a reality, using that cap space now on a top five center that will give the Knicks a defender and rebounder in the middle that they haven’t had in a decade.
The time to wait for cap room next year is over. Everyone around the NBA is obsessed with copying Miami with the three superstar model, but the fact of the matter is that formula hasn’t proven to win anything. Instead, the Knicks found someone to fit their greatest need. Sure, Chandler might be overpaid, but in a league with a dearth of centers, the value is about right. Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony is enough star power to win a title.
The Knicks calculated that in the current NBA, a defensive minded athletic seven footer is a lot tougher to find than a point guard. Finding a replacement for Chauncey Billups on the cheap will be far easier than finding someone to play center. With the Knicks current personnel, it’s also more valuable. Carmelo Anthony does not need a point guard to get his points. Stoudemire might be affected since Mike D’Antoni’s system depends on the pick and roll so much, but if the coach is to be believed, Anthony will get the chance to be the ball handler in those situations. Chandler is the perfect fit next to the Knicks stars in the front court.
Defensively, he’ll do all the dirty work those two are often hesitant to do. There is also hope that his attention to detail and hustle will be infectious among his teammates, bringing the overall defensive efficiency of the team up. He’ll also take pressure off of Stoudemire, who can guard much less physical power forwards, making him better on the boards. His presence as a shot blocker should also allow the Knicks guards to be more aggressive on the perimeter.
Even though Chandler’s offensive skill set is limited, he can still be useful on that end of the floor. While he can’t spread the floor, he should be able to grab a lot of offensive rebounds when teams double team Stoudemire and Anthony. He should also be open on penetration and dish situations. With his ability to catch and finish he’ll get plenty of easy baskets. He can also run the floor and catch and finish on the pick and roll, two other staples of D’Antoni’s offense.
On a broader note, the Knicks have a feel of an Eastern Conference team, with an intimidating front court that will punish teams around the basket. If the Chandler signing is any indication, it might also mean that there will be more of a focus on defense. D’Antoni has his horses, and the time to win is now. This is no longer a transition year. This is the year to try to win a championship.
I’ll take a look at the Knicks backcourt tomorrow… you can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk
Is Chandler a good fit for the Knicks? Leave a comment below.