by Andy T
The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks have apparently concluded a deal centered around Tyson Chandler and Jose Calderon. The Knicks will also receive second year player Shane Larkin, journeyman Wayne Ellington, and the Mavs’ two second round picks (34 and 51), while the Mavericks will also receive Ray Felton.
We’ll get to the Knicks part of this deal later in the column, but since they missed the playoffs in the East, and got worse, and the Mavs are a 49-win team in the West, you’ll forgive me for mostly staying here.
The older I get the more I recognize that even national columnists can’t physically pay attention to all 30 teams in the league at the level of detail that’s expected of them. So here’s some context to help you understand why the Mavs did what they did.
1) The Mavs’ two major problems last year were related
When opposing players came into the Mavs’ front-court, they were met by the unworkable defensive pair of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. Before you scoff at this, this is the major reason the Warriors, stupidly or not, are unwilling to give up Klay Thompson. Having at least one guard who can play defense is pretty important.
When they inevitably got past those guards, they arrived at either Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair, or Brandan Wright. At that point, they scored a bucket, because why wouldn’t they. I mean, travelling from Calderon to Blair is basically a high-speed mag-lev train.
So by pulling off this trade, the Mavs have given themselves a huge upgrade at center, probably on both ends of the court, and opened up a slot to fix their other major problem.
The Mavs will miss Caldy more than most people realize. They’ll miss his distributing, although they may be able to address that to a certain degree, but mostly they’ll miss his 3-pt shooting, which was 45% last year and a huge part of the Mavs’ attack. He was a big part of the reason, they hung in against the Spurs, averaging 10 points, a 4.4-1 A/TO ratio and shooting 48% from three. But, this move gives them a chance at a balanced team, which gives them a chance to really compete.
2) Tyson was the only possible solution to another problem
The Mavs needed a good defensive center. They’ve always needed that, on some level. Such a person is the perfect complement to the still extremely effective Dirk. They only had it one time and they won a chip. But they need it right now to maximize Dirk. He had a great season, but he got worn down and wasn’t his usual self at the end of games. At times in the playoffs, he had to play center, which isn’t exactly a recipe to keep him fresh.
But here was the problem: thanks to two years of Ponce De Leon like searching for a big fish, the Mavs had literally nothing to trade. If you think the Mavs gave up too much, let me ask Bucks fans: would you guys give up Larry Sanders for Calderon, Dalembert, Larkin, Ellington and two second rounders? Would you Rockets fan give up Asik for that? You wouldn’t. Thus, Tyson Chandler was the only even reasonable target to fill this need. Meanwhile, Jose Calderon was the only player the Mavericks had who they could realistically trade for some return. Which brings me to my next point.
3) If you were on Twitter at the time this went down, you saw a lot of people change their opinion on this trade from great for the Mavs to bad for the Mavs as The Famous Woj revealed that it included one, and then two 2nd round picks — the 34th and 51st picks
These people are crazy, and to them I say “save your drama for your mama”.
Guys, this is insane. We have a hard time recognizing when we’re in a historical trend that isn’t going to last. That’s why the term “post modern” was literally invented in the 1870s — everyone thinks this decade is the last and their ideas have finally solved it all. Guess what:
Just because the draft is the only way for most teams to acquire serious talent, doesn’t make it a good way to do so.
Turns out people just suck at admitting that they’re screwed. News flash: You’re screwed. Everyone is screwed. Since the NBA-ABA merger, something like 12 franchises have ever won a ring. Stop being a little baby and accept that being a good NBA team is completely impossible. Give in. Prepare for death.
Thinking second round draft picks are valuable is our generation’s version of getting under desks to protect ourselves from nuclear bombs or putting on seatbelts on airplanes. Here are the guys to go 34 since 2004: Isaiah Canaan, Jae Crowder, Shelvin Mack, Armon Johnson, Sergio Lull, Mario Chalmers, Nick Fazekas, Paul Davis, C.J. Miles.
Mario Chalmers, who is a perfectly adequate player, is by far the best of that lot even if he was born in a palace and thinks that makes him a king. C.J. Miles is maybe a little worse. Shelvin Mack is…fine. Jae Crowder is…almost fine. 6 of those guys are out of the league, and Isaiah Canaan is too soon to tell.
51? Romero Osby, Kris Joseph, Jon Diebler, Magnum Rolle, Jack McClinton, Shan Foster, Jameson Curry, Chiekh Samb,Robert Whaley, Christian Dreier If you’ve ever heard of any of those names besides possibly Jameson Curry, good for you, that must be neat.
I mean is this some kind of joke that everyone’s in on? It was a great trade but then they traded the next Shelvin Mack and Christian Dreier and it’s a bad one? It’s like everyone just assumes that because a second round pick COULD be Manu or Chandler Parsons, the odds of that are better than you getting a date with a woman with a job, you ugly mook. C’mon.
4) The Mavs are on the Doomsday clock
You probably don’t know how great Dirk was last season, because the media was not into it. But, Dirk was top 12 in scoring in the NBA, with a higher FG% than anyone in the top 12 besides Al Jeff, Blake Griffin, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, playing fewer minutes than anyone but DeMarcus Cousins and taking the fewest shots by .6 a game. He was top 12 in PER, top 11 in Estimated Wins Added, 22nd in TS%. He was 5th in Wins Against Replacement, behind LBJ, Durant, Curry, Paul, and just ahead of Kevin Love, and 5th in that new “real plus minus” thing ESPN is doing, behind LBJ, Paul, Iggy, Durant, and just ahead of Steph Curry.
He was great. The minute he leaves Dallas, Dallas will go into auto-tank just because they’ll be terrible. After spending two years navel-gazing, last offseason the Mavs finally realized that, like Justin Timberlake in “In Time”, they were living on borrowed…well, you get it.
In that sense, the value of someone who can contribute now is so much more valuable than young talent — even if that young talent were something worthwhile rather than Axel Hervell — that they can’t even go to the same parties, it’s too awkward.
5) Tyson Chandler is still terrific
I can’t believe people are making this mistake again. Tyson was on a mediocre team, the Hornets, so people thought he wasn’t much, so he was traded, in a salary dump, to the Thunder for Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith, in 2009, only to have that reversed when he failed a physical. Seriously. That happened. (Imagine the Thunder with Chandler instead of Perk. Right?) So now he’s on a bad team, and people think he’s bad.
My friend Hal Brown, who basically runs this place as near as I can tell, tells me these facts about Tyson Chandler:
- Chandler’s DRAPM (defensive real adjusted plus/minus), a measure of how much better the Knicks were with him on the court than off, was 4.06; roughly how much Chris Paul helps the Clippers’ offense.
- He was fifth best at “corralling and defending ball handlers who are attacking the pick and roll”, which, as Hal notes, is damn good considering he was cleaning up after Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith.
- 34th at defending the roll man, top 20 at covering shooters and big men over screens and around hand-off plays.
And he’s only 31 years old. Yes, he’s a little injury prone, but so is Sam Dalembert. Sam made it to 80 games last year, but 47 and 65 the years before, while Tyson played 55, 66, and 62. You can only make a pretty picnic, you can’t predict the weather.
6) Salary stuff
The Mavs get a $15 million expiring, and still probably have room for a max contract. The Knicks save like $5 million this year but get a long-term, expensive contract in Caldy. I don’t really know what’s in it for them — the Triangle needs a 3-pt shooting PG and Phil likes the smart ones, but this doesn’t quite add up. Possibly they don’t think Carmelo’s coming back. If so, trading Chandler is a way to get pretty close to being under the cap this coming season which would give them slightly more options than being over the cap (being over the cap without Carmelo and Chandler? Blech).
Other than that, I don’t know. They get back into the draft.
7) Bottom line
The Mavs got by far the best player in this trade, who will be an appealing trade chip if he gets injured ($15 mil expiring!). They gave up a good player, but in doing so cleared the way to finish addressing their major weakness last year. Besides that they gave up Shane Larkin, who played 489 minutes, shot 38% and had a slightly worse than 2:1 assist to turnover ratio and Wayne Ellington, who played 393 minutes and was, you know, whatever. The Knicks dropped a big salary chunk this year but took on more next year. Ray Felton also exists. Etc.