The New York Knicks have kicked off their summer with a bang in the off-season. Desperately trying to remain relevant and re-sign superstar free agent Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have made their first move. The summer of 2014 was predicted by many analysts to be limited in activity for the Knicks, but a surprised splash by new GM, Phil Jackson has made for headlines. Reports announced today via ESPN confirm that the Knicks and Mavericks have “agreed in principle” to a trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Sources have spoken on “anonymity” because the transaction has not officially taken place.
The trade involves six active players in total, as well as draft picks. The Knicks will send starting center Tyson Chandler and their starting point guard, Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks. The Dallas Mavericks will send a package of point guards, Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, veteran center Samuel Dalembert, and shooting guard Wayne Ellington. The draft barren Knicks will also receive the 34th and 51st picks in this years NBA draft. The draft will take place on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Chandler headlines the trade as an All Star and former Defensive Player of the Year. Chandler returns to his old team where he served as key cog defensively in the middle, when the Mavericks won the 2011 NBA Finals. Chandler netted a four-year deal worth $60 million with the Knicks later that summer. The 7’1″ Chandler helped turned around the Knicks defense. However, last year, Chandler complained about former Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s “switching defense” and repeatedly called out his teammates “lack of effort.”
Felton struggled mildly last season. He was often criticized for his soothing woes and conditioning. The point guard returned for his second stint with the Knicks as a free agent, after being traded in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. Felton quickly became a target for scrutiny, stemming from his off the court legal issues with his wife. He was later charged with criminal gun possession, but received no jail time after recently reaching a plea agreement.
Felton was aware that his Knicks days were numbered as he met with Jackson in May. According to reports, Jackson was fed up with the point guard who averaged just 9.5 points per game and 5.6 assists while shooting 39 percent from the field. Jackson informed Felton that he would be traded this summer. The Knicks had tried to move Felton at the trade deadline this season for the Los Angeles Clippers guard Darren Collison. However, the deal fell through at the last minute.
The New York Knicks trade deal of Felton and Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks may be seem to be a desperate reach for salary dumping. However, Jose Calderon fits in well with the team as a pure point, pass-first guard with a very low turnover rate. In addition to his superior passing skills, Calderon is also an excellent three-point shooter. The point guard finished in the top ten in both 3-point field goals made with 191 and percentage at 44. Calderon also placed fourth in the NBA in assist to turnover ratio this season.
Shane Larkin showed flashes of brilliance with his athleticism in college at university of Miami. The 21-year-old guard is the son of Hall of Fame baseball player Barry Larkin. The 5’11” Larkin played sparingly as a rookie last season. He was drafted No. 18 by the Hawks and shipped to the Mavericks on draft day. The highly coveted prospect should see more action on his new squad.
The unforeseen trade deal that the Knicks and Mavericks reached for Chandler and Felton can be seen as a new front office strategy. Whispers have emerged that Jackson’s new plan is to clear cap room this offseason in order to sign potential free agents. New York native guard Lance Stephenson’s name has come up in association with rumors of possible Knicks free agent targets. The trade is believed to be the first in a series of moves that will clear cap room immediately, in order to convince Anthony to stay with the team. Jackson’s original pitch to Anthony was to opt in and stay the course until 2015. The Knicks would have as much as $50 million in salary cap room to attract potential free agents. However, $5.2 million dollars from the current trade will go into next years cap, but it will free up $3.2 million for the Knicks this summer. It appears Jackson and the Knicks front office have all but abandoned their original proposal in fear that Anthony will go elsewhere.
Commentary by Brandon Wright