If the Golden State Warriors fail to land Kevin Love, they may have their sights set on another former All-Star big man.
Appearing on his ESPN Radio show on 98.7 FM on Wednesday, Stephen A. Smith indicated the Warriors may be interested in trading for New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler. In the proposal—to which Smith gave no indication on its seriousness—Golden State would send forwards David Lee and Harrison Barnes to New York for the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year.
Any Chandler deal would be contingent on the Warriors failing to land Love. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the Warriors and Timberwolves were engaged in talks that featured Love and Kevin Martin going to Golden State in exchange for Klay Thompson, Lee and another asset. Stein and colleague Ramona Shelburne did indicate, however, that negotiations have stalled over the weekend due to an organizational split in Golden State whether to give up Thompson.
In theory, that could leave room for a Chandler swap.
In practice, the proposed deal makes zero basketball sense.
The Warriors already have a rim-protecting big in Andrew Bogut. Subtracting a young asset like Barnes and a very good offensive power forward like Lee would only serve to constrict floor spacing. Bogut and Chandler are lumbering types at this point in their careers. Playing them together in theory would offer an elite defensive presence—right until the moment one of them is asked to defend an NBA power forward.
There are only two possibilities in which adding Chandler makes sense, and both are remote possibilities.
Golden State could dangle Bogut in trade talks. Elite rim protectors are an increasingly desired commodity, and Bogut played in 67 games during the regular season before a rib fracture cost him his postseason. The Warriors might be able to find a market for him on a win-now team desperate for a splash.
One issue: Bogut’s contract. Golden State signed the Aussie to a three-year, $36 million extension in October. That’s a lot of money for someone who is a borderline lock to miss 15 or more games per season. It’s also an indication of organizational commitment to Bogut, for whom the Warriors traded and re-signed despite his onerous injury history.
Salary relief is another possible motivator. Chandler’s deal is due to expire after the 2014-15 season, while Lee is on the books for more than $30 million over the next two seasons.
This theory is, again, easily debunked. The Warriors fired head coach Mark Jackson in part because he was unable to satisfactorily advance this talented roster in the playoffs. This is an organization looking to compete for championships, not pinch pennies. Considering that Klay Thompson is eligible for his rookie extension this summer—the deal would start in 2015-16—any cap savings caused by unloading Lee’s contract would evaporate.
As Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group put it: “This would be an excellent trade—if Warriors general manager Bob Myers sees the end of his tenure under Joe Lacob coming and wants to start preparing for his next move.”
Under no circumstances will this trade happen, nor should it. The Warriors are out to catch big fish this offseason. Inertia is a much better solution than a salary dump for an awkward basketball fit.
As for whether Chandler is available in a general sense, that’s a more interesting question. The Knicks’ plans are being held up until the Carmelo Anthony situation resolves itself. If Anthony stays, keeping Chandler’s defensive presence around—even in a diminished state—is a must. If Anthony bolts, Phil Jackson might start dumping players like Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani to start a full-scale rebuild.
For now, the trade winds in the Big Apple remain quiet. Once Anthony makes his decision either way, all bets are off.
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