Tony Dejak/Associated Press
In his role, Knicks center Tyson Chandler is very good. On offense, he'll scoop up his teammates' trash and usually jam it home for two points. He's a former Defensive Player of the Year, and despite recent regressions on that end, he's still one of the game's most reliable 7-footers in terms of rim protection.
But maybe that isn't enough anymore.
When Glen Grunwald inked Chandler to a four-year contract before the 2011-12 season, he knew he wasn't getting a versatile scorer—but at the time, it was fine. Carmelo Anthony was heading into his first full season with the Knicks, and Amar'e Stoudemire was on the heels of an MVP-caliber season offensively. In fact, Stoudemire may have been a top-five scorer over that 2010-11 campaign.
With two All-Star scorers in the starting lineup, the team planned on competing for rings with Chandler, and all his offensive limitations, in such a prime role.
It didn't take long for that plan to fall apart.
Stoudemire's back and knees couldn't remain intact over the shortened 66-game season, and when he was on the floor, terrible spacing impeded everything the team tried to do on offense. In many senses, the Knicks' "Big Three" was a failure.
Though the Knicks' offense thrived last season as a small-ball, three-point-heavy attack, it's clear now that behind Anthony, the team is desperate for a reliable threat with the basketball—something Chandler will never be.
If the Knicks decide it's time to move on from Chandler, they could place a call to another team desperate for change: the Cleveland Cavaliers, about Anderson Varejao.
The 31-year-old's contract runs through 2014-15, like Chandler's, but at a discounted rate of $9.7 million, compared to Chandler's $14 million. A package of Chandler and Iman Shumpert, whose talent is becoming more superfluous in New York with each Tim Hardaway three-pointer, could be enough to get Cleveland to consider.
Varejao is every bit the rebounder Chandler is, posting an 18.5 total rebound percentage over the last five years, compared to Chandler's 18.3. The primary difference between the two is Varejao's ability to create his own looks and his range on a jumper that extends to just inside the three-point line. He's shooting an outstanding 54 percent on shots in between 16 feet out and three-point range this season.
A 2014-15 frontline of Varejao and Anthony—by no means championship caliber in itself—would be a stark improvement, offensively, from this season and give Anthony a bona fide scorer to fall back on.
Of course, the immediate drawback with Varejao is the fact that he's played in just 125 games since 2010-11. Over the last two seasons, though, the center's health issues have become slightly less discouraging. He missed most of last season, but due to a blood clot scare rather than an avoidable injury. This season he's played in 44 of the team's 46 games.