In 2015 the Knicks will embark on a rebuilding, or retooling, or restructuring process, or whatever McKinsey wants to call it. It is common-knowledge by now that their plan is to surround Carmelo Anthony with a new crop of free-agents, utilizing cap-space. The Knicks will only have significant cap-space if, among other things, they cut ties with Tyson Chandler.
So the Knicks should trade him. I say this as a huge Chandler fan, but an even bigger Knicks fan. The team’s choices for Chandler in light of their 2015 plan are the same as for any player (who has trade value): keep him or trade him. Keeping him entails trying to win with him until his contract expires in a year and a half. But the Knicks cannot win anything meaningful in next year and a half. So they should exchange him for some pieces who can help them win something meaningful beyond the next year and a half.
Doing so could be a real opportunity to reestablish long-term viability, but only if done wisely, in a non-Knicksian manner. Specifically they should not trade Chandler straight-up for an established veteran on a long-term, expensive contract. I recognize that by necessity, such a player must be involved in any trade for Chandler for the cap figures to work. But the veteran should be the secondary part of the trade, an afterthought thrown-in to make the numbers work, and on a deal that expires no later than next year. Otherwise the Knicks will forfeit their 2015 cap space before they get it.
Instead, the centerpiece of the Knicks’ return for Chandler must be a young player who will be on his rookie contract in the summer of 2015. If the Knicks could pull off such a move, they would retain most of the 2015 cap space they are currently scheduled to have, while sporting an additional piece with whom to rebuild around Carmelo Anthony.
I will leave the various permutations to Twitter speculation but some promising young players who will be under contract in 2015 on below-market deals include (with the caveat that I have attempted any analysis here on whether Chandler would make sense for the other team): Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, Jon Leuer, Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Mo Harkless, Tony Wroten, Miles Plumlee, Alex Len, Terrence Ross, Trey Burke, Bradley Beal, and others.
Additionally, the following players (among others, same caveat) will be restricted free-agents who would be worthy acquisitions despite the risk another team might offer them a contract that the Knicks would have to match: Enes Kanter, Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Markief and Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson.
An additional option would be to trade Chandler for a future first round draft pick.
Any of these options would be preferable to letting yet another asset melt away.