Tyson Chandler to Knicks: Pros and Cons of Signing Former Mavericks Big Man

Keith Schlosser@KnicksJournal Analyst IDecember 15, 2011

Right now, the New York Knicks and their fans are simply elated.

The signing of big man Tyson Chandler not only brings an NBA champion to the Big Apple, but also provides the Knicks with the greatest defensive presence they’ve had in over a decade.

Chandler is not simply just an NBA champion. After watching the NBA Finals, many basketball fans may argue that he helped propel the Dallas Mavericks to victory last year, anchoring the defense for a team that already featured offensive talents like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.

Let that thought settle in for just a second—on a team that was comprised of two future Hall of Famers, an NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” award winner, among others, Tyson Chandler was widely considered the “X-Factor.”

If his play was that influential for the Mavericks, Chandler is almost certain to make an even bigger impact on the Knicks.

His skill set will obviously be helpful to the Knicks. Chandler towers high at 7’1" tall, but furthermore, there’s a certain ferociousness about him that the team has been lacking in a big man. With long arms, he is able to attack the boards, truly playing above the rim to put back any missed shots.

He boasted a field goal percentage higher than 65 percent last season, and while that’s most likely because the majority of his shots were dunks and put-backs, that will suit his new team perfectly fine.

The Knicks already have a bevy of offensive weapons.

In fact, Amar’e Stoudemire’s already-impressive offensive production is sure to improve due to Chandler’s presence. All the team needs Chandler to do is plant himself under the basket, allowing STAT to take a step back, connecting on ample jump shots as a result of the pick-and-roll.

He will help Stoudemire on the defensive side of the ball, too.

Chandler is a very physical player who aggressively swats away shot attempts, often backing down opponents. He is clearly someone who won’t get intimidated easily, should anyone try to drive through the lane against him. 

As a result, the Knicks’ team captain will no longer have to endure the bumps and bruises that often come with manning the paint.

There’s no question that Stoudemire and Chandler will form a well-balanced and formidable frontcourt duo. They will prove to be great complements to one another.

The Knicks clearly have their sights set on bringing home an NBA title, and having Chandler in the fold brings them that much closer, as nearly every championship-winning squad has a talented big man down low.

As much as the Knicks gain in Chandler, however, they will lose in the point guard position. Acquiring Chandler meant amnestying five-time All-Star Chauncey Billups, leaving the team with limited options in a floor general to fill his shoes.

The Knicks are confident that third-year guard Toney Douglas will respond well to a promotion into the starting five, but the fact of the matter is that TD doesn’t represent a Mike D’Antoni-esque point guard.

While Billups may not have fit that same description to a tee himself, (which is perhaps why the Knicks had a higher winning percentage with Raymond Felton than Billups), at least his experience gave him some credibility.

Coach D’Antoni prefers a point guard who can run the open floor and distribute the ball effectively. Douglas is a player who is very good at what he does, but unfortunately for D’Antoni, Douglas instead likes to shoot the ball.

With so many other shooters already on the squad, is Douglas really the best man to run the show?

The Knicks did sign Mike Bibby for a reserve role, but he himself will not be enough, as his play has declined over the years, and it remains to be seen if he can still handle the responsibility of running a playoff-contending offense.

Given the coach’s offensive philosophies, the addition of Chandler consequently takes away from the team on the offensive end a tad.

Perhaps the Knicks acquired the big man with the future in mind, regardless of whether or not D’Antoni himself is a part in that future. If he is not able to adjust his offense accordingly, he may not find himself in New York past this season.

The acquisition of Chandler (and the money owed to him: $56 million over a four-year period) also limits what moves the Knicks can make to improve the team in the future.

Sure, New York’s newly formed “Big Three” is supposed to finally be comprised of the talent worthy of carrying the team back to greatness, but what if it’s simply not enough? The team is not left with much room to improve.

Furthermore, is Chandler really worth a maximum contract? Will he be worth it throughout the duration of the pact? 

The big man has never made an All-Star team, and furthermore, was only named to the Second All-Defense Team for the first time this past season—of course, his contract year.

In addition, he has only appeared in at least 75 games once in the last four seasons. How will Chandler’s body hold up throughout his time with the Knicks, especially over the course of this upcoming shortened season, where teams will be forced to play back-to-back-to-back games?

The answers to all of these questions will begin to reveal themselves this season. Did the Knicks overpay for Chandler simply because he represents something the team has craved for all these years?

If all bodes well, the big man will prove to be worth every penny of his contract, should he be able to propel the Knicks back into title contention. 

For Keith's Knicks coverage and much more, visit Knicks Journal.

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