Wilson Chandler is ostensibly in a contract year, so to start off the season averaging 21 points per game -- just percentage points behind team-leader Amar'e Stoudemire (21.3) -- makes it easy for his agent. But despite the fact that the Knicks are thrilled with Chandler, it is unlikely the team will sign him to a contract extension by Monday's deadline. Chandler's agent, Chris Luchey, was in New York to meet with Knicks president Donnie Walsh to discuss the situation.
"All the talks have been positive," Luchey said after his client had 22 points and 16 rebounds in Saturday's 100-95 loss to the Trail Blazers. "I think the Knicks have an interest in extending him . . . I think it's more of a question with ownership and the direction and really collective bargaining. That's the hurdle for everyone in that class."
Chandler is the team's union representative, so he has learned quickly about the ongoing CBA talks. But, really, the issue at hand is the flexibility the Knicks would like to maintain in free agency next summer, especially with Carmelo Anthony as a potential target. Chandler would be a restricted free agent, so the Knicks would have the right to match any offer made to him. His qualifying offer number is $3,099,851, but Luchey said Chandler would be seeing a long-term deal to remain with the Knicks.
The 23-year-old, who was raised in poverty-stricken Benton Harbor, Mich. by his grandmother, said the lack of an extension doesn't concern him and won't be a distraction this season.
"I spent most of my life with no money, so a year won't be hard to deal with," he said. "Whatever I get will be better than what I have."
Have to respect that kind of perspective.
* * *
* - Luchey is also a central figure in an NBA investigation into allegations levied against the Knicks for holding illegal pre-draft workouts, which were reportedly arranged by the team's director of East Coast scouting, Rodney Heard. Luchey was named in the Yahoo! Sports report as being connected to Heard, who reportedly worked out Chandler before the 2007 draft. Chandler denied he was involved in any illegal workouts with Heard. NBA commissioner David Stern last week said that he doesn't expect a quick resolution.
Luchey, who also denied any illegal involvement with Heard, said he has not heard from the NBA as of yet. Walsh declined to comment on the situation.
* - It was an entertaining pregame introduction for the home opener, with Michael Buffer doing the intros (actually, wouldn't it be cool if the Knicks found someone who could perfectly impersonate the voice of the legendary John F.X. Condon?). But it was impossible not to notice Eddy Curry's conspicuous absence while the two other injured players, Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Randolph, were both part of the festivities. Curry, who wanted no part of being booed by the Garden faithful, remained back in the locker room and didn't even come out to sit on the bench for the game.
* - Raymond Felton had some impressive moments in the loss to the Trail Blazers tonight and appears to be finding ways to score in this offense. The issue is the pick-and-roll, which Felton and Stoudemire just can't seem to execute anywhere near as successful as Chris Duhon and David Lee used to. Felton often can't make the pass off the screen to Stoudemire and he's also missed many chances to hit Timofey Mozgov alone at the rim. But there always seem to be arms or legs in the way of a pass, which Felton pointed out to be the result of opposing defenses "sucking in" right now against the Knicks because they don't have much of a perimeter game to draw them out.
Of course it may be unfair, but Felton will continue to hear the Steve Nash comparisons when it comes to playing with Amar'e.
"I ain't trying to match nobody," Felton said. I am who I am. Steve Nash is who he is. I'm not trying to match anything he did. I'm just trying to build that chemistry with Amar'e so we can make things work here. That's all it's about."
* - Most of the reason why the perimeter game is almost non-existent is because Danilo Gallinari's game continues to flatline. I wrote a column about it for the Sunday Newsday. Mike D'Antoni seems to think it's mental, which means either Gallo's confidence is as low as his shooting percentage or his he's been demoralized by the fact that his name is mentioned prominently in rumors involving a potential future trade for Carmelo Anthony. If the latter is really the case, Gallinari needs to understand that this should be his opportunity to convince the Knicks not to trade him, rather than give them reasons to second-guess their brimming optimism about his potential. Oh and it's become common knowledge at this point that it's most likely nothing will happen on the Carmelo front in the near future, so Gallo can settle in and, if it is an issue, stop worrying. Again, the idea is to make yourself so valuable the Knicks might second-guess trading you.
A shooting slump is one thing, but there are other ways to contribute. And when you're 6-10 and you play 15 minutes and don't grab a rebound, that's a bigger issue than missing jump shots.