No, it's not the shenanigans-addicted J.R. Smith, nor is it the wildly expensive, albeit slightly rejuvenated, Amar'e Stoudemire. Shockingly enough, it's not Cole "Where Am I?" Aldrich, either.
It's Tyson Chandler.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Knicks are refusing to field trade offers for their former Defensive Player of the Year:
The Knicks continue to get calls for center Tyson Chandler and, according to sources close to the situation, continue to scoff at every one. New York, to this point, has no interest in parting with its defensive anchor. (Which is smart if the Knicks are set on re-signing Carmelo Anthony to that megadeal this summer.)
Chandler has been a highly sought-after commodity this season—by Knicks standards, that is.
Prone to devaluing young prospects while playing host to numerous overpaid veterans, New York isn't a hotbed for outside interest. Usually, the Knicks are taking initiative.
But with their season in unexpected shambles, interested teams are attempting to seize what they hope is an opportunity.
Chris Broussard of ESPN previously reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in acquiring Chandler, who, when healthy, is a defensive linchpin capable of shifting the entire narrative on that end of the floor.
New York resisted, though, just like it is here, suggesting it hasn't given up hope on this season.
Winners of their last four, including a thrilling Chandler-less victory over the Miami Heat, the Knicks are a half-game back of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot and 4.5 games off the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors.
Next to Carmelo Anthony, Chandler is the team's most important player. Aside from being a productive fixture on the defensive end, he's a vocal leader with a championship ring who takes charge in ways no one else does or can.
Having won four straight largely without Chandler—who played just four minutes in their victory over the Dallas Mavericks—the Knicks are clearly more inclined to see what they have once they're healthy. Injuries have dampened their productivity considerably this season, and while disappointing, their state cannot be entirely judged until everyone is present and accounted for.
Stein also notes that Chandler is imperative to keeping Anthony around, which is absolutely true. The Knicks are short on defensive talent and leadership in general, so Chandler would be one of the reasons Anthony decides to re-sign.
Chandler's health might be impacting New York's stance as well. He's already missed 23 games this year tending to a broken leg and, most recently, an upper respiratory infection. Frequent injuries will likely diminish what the Knicks can receive in return, making him more valuable as an active team member than as potential trade fodder.
Look for the Knicks to retain Chandler unless the team decides to change course and attempt to clean house. Then, if healthy, he could be someone the Knicks attach to undesirable contracts (Smith) in an effort to create flexibility.
"It's kind of gone around," Mike Woodson said of the injuries and illnesses sweeping through his team before their victory over Miami, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley.
Around, but not entirely aground. Hope hasn't vanished, and until it does, expect the Knicks to continue rebuffing any Chandler-centered trade proposals they receive.