Crazier things have happened.
But what if they did?
What if the Knicks, driven by panic, resignation or the belief that Chandler, a one-time All-Star, is more valuable as trade fodder than a defensive mainstay decide to deal him? What if they relent and entertain the calls flooding general manager Steve Mills' phone?
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Knicks "continue to get calls" for Chandler, overtures they have thus far resisted. Because they won't trade him.
Because he's untouchable.
Then again, it's still early. Plenty of time for the Knicks, notorious trade scavengers, to do the unthinkable and change their mind.
Most times, available players are more valuable to their incumbent team than the courter. That's just how it is.
We've seen cases of similar thinking time and time again. Vetoed Chris Paul trade notwithstanding, the Los Angeles Lakers have dangled Pau Gasol in proposals for nearly three years. Each and every time, he's gone nowhere (obviously).
Why? Let me give you a hint: It's not for fear of exploiting trade partners.
Failure to net adequate value in return for his services/contract has prevented the Lakers from trading him. It's why Andrew Bynum talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers broke down. It's why Gasol, despite Los Angeles' clear efforts, is still sporting purple and gold.
Similar issues apply to any Chandler discussions. The Knicks are going to place a higher value on his presence than prospective suitors.
Interested teams will look at New York and see a desperate franchise, hamstrung by financial restrictions and underwhelming assets, playing its way toward a lower-seeded playoff berth.
They'll point to Chandler, his frequent trips to the sidelines and devalue him.
What the Knicks Won't Get
A lottery pick. Or superstar. Mostly the lottery pick thing.
Rebuilding and tanking teams won't be the ones chasing Chandler. At 31, he's not someone you build around. His contract is intriguing because it expires after next season, but is he worth a lottery pick? In this summer's draft?
First-round draft picks aren't handed out like candy or free samples anymore. Not unless you're the Knicks or Brooklyn Nets. Teams that are willing to fork over a first-rounder will either be a.) contenders projected to have a late selection, b.) offering commitments that won't be fulfilled for years or c.) both.
Chandler appeals to competing teams first and foremost. Intangibles bolster his value, but he's an essential specialist who disappears offensively for long stretches at a time. And you can't sling consistent defense and "Tyson Tip-Outs" and hope to land a lottery selection within the deepest draft class of the last 10 years.
Landing a legitimate second superstar is equally unlikely. If the market for Chandler consists mainly of contenders and playoff teams, none of them are going to flip a prime superstar in a deal headlined by Chandler. It just wouldn't make sense.
Those dreaming of a Rajon Rondo package will want to wake up, too. If by some chance the Boston Celtics, or any other team, were interested in Chandler, he alone won't get the job done. His $14.1 million salary matches up with other expensive players nicely, but he's the type of talent you need to pair with draft picks and young prospects to pull off a blockbuster.
The Knicks are thin at both, making it more than unlikely they're able to pry a current superstar away while using Chandler as primary bait.
What the Knicks Could Get
Yours truly just belittled Chandler. Sort of. I prefer to call it "remaining realistic."
Chandler is great. Really, he is. The Knicks' net rating is nearly five points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor, and when he's healthy, he's the most vocal player on the defensive end, schooling his teammates in the art of effort.
But he's not a conventional superstar. Trading him won't solve all the Knicks' present or future problems. It could actually cause more.
That doesn't mean trading him doesn't have its benefits. Given the right situation, team and deal, moving him could be a useful means to a different end.
Stein, along with his colleague, Ian Begley, previously reported that there's another player the Knicks are looking to move:
J.R. Smith has fallen out of favor in New York, Shoelace-gating his way to a one-game benching against the Miami Heat. Though his contract—which pays him $6 million annually on average—isn't unreasonable, there isn't a market for his services.
How could there be when he's following up his Sixth Man of the Year campaign by averaging 11.4 points on 35.4 percent shooting per game and remaining a major thorn in New York's side? On his own, he's immovable.
Attached to Chandler, maybe not.
Chief among New York's options is the ability to shed salary in any Chandler deal. Packaging him with an undesirable contract or two (Raymond Felton, anyone?) helps the Knicks ensure a clean slate for summer 2015, when ESPN's Brian Windhorst says they plan to sign one or two of Tony Parker, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Rondo.
Anything that opens up new realms of possibility in 2015 is something the Knicks will consider. Hell, a move that frees up cap space this summer is something they could be interested in as well.
Though unlikely, Chandler's deal could theoretically be packaged with an Andrea Bargnani or (even less likely) Amar'e Stoudemire deal. If the Knicks can land expiring and/or cheaper deals in return while gaining additional spending power this offseason, when 'Melo hits free agency, that's something they'll have to look at.
Will They/Should They Deal Chandler?
Broken-record style, absolutely not.
This is a course the Knicks consider only if they give up on this season—which they won't. They play in the Eastern Conference and, at 14-22, are just 4.5 games away from home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
If this season were to take a turn for the worst—more so than it already has—it's still unlikely the Knicks shop Chandler. They don't have the supporting assets to facilitate a blockbuster deal, and Chandler will be a key selling point when the Knicks sit down with Anthony this summer.
Potential financial benefits are intriguing. But they're also underwhelming.
Packaging Chandler with Smith and Felton in favor of expiring deals won't bring the Knicks under the salary cap. Attaching Bargs to his deal won't even do that. Some combination of Smith, STAT and Bargs, along with Chandler, would get them there, but that's asking too much. It could even be impossible.
Chandler fits into what the Knicks are trying to do now—win enough to retain Anthony. And he fits into what they're doing later—embarking on a complex spending binge in 2015. Trading him won't expedite either process. Not for what the Knicks can receive in return.
"I feel like it's unwarranted," Chandler said of "Fire Mike Woodson" chants heading into the New Year, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley.
So, too, is talk of trading Chandler, who is far more valuable to the Knicks in New York than he is anywhere else.
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