The New York Knicks are in a tough position this summer, but there's no denying that their decisions this offseason will be key to their rebuilding process.
When the Knicks finally get under the cap in 2015, they'll have a huge chance to add a major free agent, but that alone isn't going to transform the team. They'll need depth, too, and making some smart moves in the meantime will ensure they get that.
Ignoring the obvious of re-signing Carmelo Anthony (or completing a sign-and-trade if he decides to leave), let's break down the one move New York has to consider this summer—trading Tyson Chandler in an attempt to to add some youth.
There's no denying that, for the most part, Chandler has been a great defensive player for the Knicks. However, his body is breaking down to the point where it's hard to justify re-signing him long-term when his contract expires in 2015.
More importantly, though, the Knicks' cap space in 2015 is dependent on them renouncing their rights to Chandler (along with Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani), which will in turn remove their Bird rights to him and make it extremely difficult to bring him back even if they want to.
What that means is that it's time to act now to get what they can for Chandler, instead of either losing him for nothing when they renounce his rights or keeping him and taking themselves out of contention for a major free agent in 2015.
At this point in his career, Chandler will be a hard sell making $14 million. But it is an expiring deal, and his new team will take his Bird rights and have an opportunity to re-up him for a more reasonable deal in a year's time.
On the Knicks' side, they should be looking to acquire a late first-rounder in this year's draft and possibly a young role player on top of that if they're willing to add Iman Shumpert to the deal.
This is a pretty deep draft, and picks throughout the first round are valuable. The Knicks are only likely to pick one up if they make a trade with a team that has more than one to their name.
After a great regular season, the Thunder were knocked out relatively early in the playoffs, and the addition of an experienced center who's a clear upgrade over Kendrick Perkins could be enough to push them over the top.
The Knicks would have to take Kendrick Perkins' contract, along with a couple more players to even the salaries, and in return, they could take one of OKC's late-round draft picks. They could also convince the Thunder to take Iman Shumpert to replace pending free agent Thabo Sefolosha in return for Reggie Jackson.
Jackson would be an ideal replacement for Raymond Felton, as he is much more athletic and reliable on both ends. He may not be a star, but if Phil Jackson implements the triangle offense, he won't need to be.
If Chandler were to be traded to the Suns, they have enough cap space to take his $14 million contract outright, but depending on how much they pay Eric Bledsoe, players may have to be added to match the salaries.
A straight up swap of Chandler for a first-rounder would be ideal. But Shumpert has sparked the Suns' interest in the past and could be added for the deal in return for Miles Plumlee, who would replace Chandler at center for the time being
Whatever the Knicks do with Chandler, the bottom line is that the upcoming 2014 draft is the deepest in recent memory, and if they don't trade him this summer they'll likely renounce him and lose him for nothing in a year's time, anyway.
Getting rid of Chandler would essentially mean giving up on competing in 2014-15, but it was already fairly unlikely that the Knicks would challenge for a title given that they just failed to make the playoffs in a truly woeful Eastern Conference.
It will be sad to see Chandler go, but it's a practical move and one of the few chances the Knicks will have to add young talent given their future draft pick situation.
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