The first official trade of the Phil Jackson era was indeed a good one.
Jackson has quickly made his presence as the “Zen Master” known by completing a deal on Wednesday with the Dallas Mavericks that sent center Tyson Chandler and guard Raymond Felton out of town, in exchange for Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, and Jose Calderon.
In addition, perhaps the most important pieces in the deal on New York’s side were two second round picks in tomorrow night’s draft.
Jackson and the Knicks have made it well known that they desired a pick or two in order to make a selection in the deep draft pool. With this trade having already gone down, the ‘Bockers will be able to do just that, and more.
When I first heard the report of this deal, on ESPN, I was shocked, but in a good way. The fact the Knicks were unable to unload an unpopular player in Felton for a better point guard (Calderon), a few other solid rotation players, AND two draft picks is incredible.
Last season, Felton was a liability to the Knicks, both with his poor defense and legal issues. However, Calderon represents a major upgrade to New York, who have been looking for adequate point guard play for a while now. In the 2013-14 season, Calderon’s PER of 15.25 bested Felton’s, which was only 12.90. With a better point guard in place, the triangle offense will be able to be run better, to the satisfaction of Jackson and newly-hired head coach Derek Fisher.
While I was pleased to see Calderon replace Felton, the player I will miss very much in New York is Chandler. He was the heart and soul of the Knicks defense, and brought a swagger to this team that I loved to watch night in and night out. Despite suffering a severe leg injury early last season, he still was able to bounce back at the tail of the year and lead the Knicks push toward the postseason, which ultimately ended up falling short.
Whether the Knicks starting center next season is Dalembert, or someone else, there will be no one who can replace the intensity of Chandler. I know that he’ll find much success in Dallas, especially because he played there during the Mavs 2011 championship campaign.
When it comes down to it, the Knicks will be much better off next season having acquired these four players and two picks. Many might see the move as a rebuilding one, but I see it totally as one to stock up for this upcoming season and a move that will continue the drive towards a championship.
If there’s anything I’ve learned while watching basketball in my short life, it’s that Jackson does not tolerate losing, and any move he makes will one way or another be done in order to win basketball games right now, not just down the road.