Phil Jackson made his first trade since becoming president of the Knicks, and shook up part of the team's core.
The Knicks sent starting center and one-time All-Star Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade Wednesday. In return, the Knicks received veteran point guard Jose Calderon, big man Samuel Dalembert, young point guard Shane Larkin, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and the No. 34 and 51 picks in Thursday night's draft.
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This move probably doesn't move the needle in any direction for Carmelo Anthony, who will be a free agent July 1. The trade adds to the Knicks' payroll next summer when they're set to be well under the cap and a major player in free agency. But it's the beginning of Jackson changing the look of the Knicks.
He upgraded at point guard -- a major issue last season -- and acquired some assets in Larkin and the two draft picks. The Knicks had none in the draft before this trade. Larkin, the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, was taken 18th last year and is a talented prospect.
"The journey to build this team for the upcoming season and beyond continues," Jackson said in a statement. "We have added players with this move that will fit right in to our system while maintaining future flexibility."
It was no secret the Knicks wanted to part with Felton, who was arrested in February on a gun charge and will plead guilty to avoid jail time. The trade also signals that Jackson didn't believe Chandler fit into the Knicks' plans. The former Defensive Player of the Year had a down season and returns to Dallas, where he helped the Mavericks win the NBA title in 2011.
Coincidentally, the Mavericks are among the teams expected to pursue Anthony and they have salary-cap room. ESPN reported that Anthony will visit the Bulls, Rockets and Mavericks when he becomes a free agent. The Heat and Lakers also could be in play. Chicago is considered the favorite to land Anthony if he leaves the Knicks.
The trade will trim about $3 million off the Knicks' payroll -- or $5 million if they waive Dalembert. The Knicks don't have the flexibility to sign Anthony and another star this summer, so LeBron James remains a dream at this point.
Jackson would have to trade Amar'e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani and take little back for the Knicks to make a significant dent in their cap space.
But Jackson showed with this move he will be aggressive. The Knicks have numerous wing players in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ellington, so they could look to unload one of them, too.
Calderon is a step up from Felton and he would fit well into the triangle offense that new coach Derek Fisher plans to employ.
A smart, unselfish player and good shooter, Calderon averaged 11.4 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 44.9 percent from three. Dalembert, 33, averaged 6.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Both started for a Dallas team that went 49-33 last season.
But Calderon, 32, has three years and $22.2 million left on his deal, with $7.4 million owed to him in 2015-16. Chandler's contract is up after next season, and Felton has two years left with $3.95 million due him.
Dalembert is entering the final year of his deal and only part of it is guaranteed. Ellington will be a free agent after next season.
Ellington and Larkin were part-time players for Dallas. Ellington averaged 3.2 points in 8.7 minutes a game. Larkin averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 assists in 10.2 minutes over 48 games.
Chandler, who the Knicks acquired from Dallas in a sign-and-trade in 2011, appeared in 55 games last season and averaged 8.7 points and 9.6 rebounds. He broke his leg the fourth game and wasn't the same defensive presence after that. Late in the season Chandler said he didn't want to be a part of a rebuilding situation.
Felton, in his second stint with the Knicks, averaged 9.7 points and 5.6 assists and drew the ire of fans for his lack of production and defense on opposing point guards.
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