The Mavericks are hoping Tyson Chandler is the same player he was in 2011. In 2011, Chandler was the defensive anchor for the Mavs as they beat the Heat in the Finals. They caught many by surprise when they then let Tyson Chandler walk in free agency, signing with the Knicks. They had struggled in the past few years to replace Chandler’s defensive presence. On the eve of the draft, the Mavericks made a splash, dealing Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, the 34th pick, and the 51st pick all for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. The move frees up some cap space for the Mavs in the 2015 summer, and makes sense since they’re trying to win now. For the Knicks, things are less clear. They have been vocal in their intent to make a splash 2015 free agency, so why commit to $7 million more with the Calderon deal that doesn’t expire until 2017-2018? The Knicks could easily end up trading him before then, but the deal is still confusing. After all, Chandler’s contract only has one more year. Phil Jackson is scheming, and maybe the deal boiled down to getting rid of Felton, as well as picking up a good young prospect in Shane Larkin. Chandler’s worth around the league has probably dwindled a bit in the past two or three years while he’s been in a Knicks uniform, but you would think the Knicks could still at least pick a 1st round pick for him.
For the Mavericks, the trade makes perfect sense. Yes, they get someone familiar with the franchise, who has quite a good history with many of the players. What’s more important though, is that the move gives the Mavericks the cap space to go after a max free agent after this season. If Kevin Love doesn’t get traded and then re-signed this year, then he’ll be a free agent next summer. As will LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. In essence, the move gives the Mavs a better roster today and cap flexibility tomorrow. If this were a few months ago, you would assume Mark Cuban was just pulling the wool over the eyes of the Knicks. But having Phil Jackson basically running things in New York, there has to be some plan. At least, let’s hope.