I am not a gambler, but I know a big risk when I see one. With rumors swirling around that the Knicks might be willing to offer Wilson Chandler for the Wizards’ #5 overall selection, I figured that I would chime in before anything comes to a head. The Knicks have to acquire young talent. It is fair to say that. But in dealing away Wilson Chandler, Donnie Walsh would be dealing away a young player for the sake of bringing in just one other young player. It is not surprising to see the Wizards be so willing to move out of the fifth spot. After all, this draft is not necessarily the cream of the crop when it comes to drafts. The Wizards want to win now, and to do so, they need productive players that can contribute immediately. With the Cavs coming off a Cinderella season, the Magic potentially losing Hedo Turkoglu, and the Celtics getting older, the Wizards see an opening in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks were the 4th best team in the East. Get my drift?
Wilson Chandler, love him, hate him, or fall in between, is a productive player. Forget about the nonsense that he would not be a good player in a more traditional system. Chandler has game. He showed it under Isaiah two years ago. Last year, he was near the top of the sophomore class. As an inconsistent 21 year old, Chandler was essentially a 15 ppg and 5 rpg SF that was arguably the team’s best defender. Playing the 2, 3, or 4, Chandler was also arguably the most versatile player on the team. Right now, Chandler is a starter on a mediocre team, and perhaps the 6th man on a championship caliber team. He is that good now, and he has the potential to be a very, VERY special player. If he was in this year’s draft (he is younger than many of the 1st round prospects), Wilson would be a lock for the lottery, and perhaps a lock for the top 10.
So why the rumors about trading him for a player that has never played one second in the NBA? Plenty of great college players have floundered in the NBA, while many decent college players have emerged as studs in the pros. Why again are we thinking about dealing him for an unknown? The answer is simple. To be a champion, Donne Walsh might think that he has to gamble a little bit. In all likelihood, Walsh will not mess around with his 2010 plan. So that leaves him with the ability to make good draft picks and acquire underrated talent with the MLE. Walsh might be tempted to gamble away one of his most valuable chips in order to reap a bigger bounty. While Chandler has all-star potential, Walsh might want to find a kid that has all-pro potential. The Knicks need star power. Aside from the Pistons a few years ago who has multiple all-star type players, most championship teams have a mega-star. Look at this year’s Final Four. The Lakers have Kobe. The Nuggets have Melo. The Magic have Howard. The Cavs have the King. Wilson Chandler will not be one of those players. No matter how effective he has been and how much potential he has shown in his first two years as a pro. Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry, and Ricky Rubio all have that potential as pros. They all have the potential to put the Knicks on the map again. They all have the potential to be a league icon. They might not be. In fact, the odds are heavily against all three being all-pro players. Very heavily. But that would be the hope if Donnie Walsh was to trade one of only beacons of light leading the Knicks through their darkened tunnel. In trading Wilson, Donnie would hope to throw dynamite into that tunnel and to blow it out of existence.
So does Donnie go all in and gamble away Wilson Chandler for the right to draft a college player (or Rubio)? That is an extremely tough call. If Walsh could ensure a crack at Rubio, then I would probably do that. Otherwise, I would have to think long and hard about it.
History has shown that it is easier to find a player like Wilson Chandler than it is to find an elite PG. If the Knicks deal away Chandler, they will still have Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari to man the position. If Harrington is in the long term plans, then this trade makes more sense to me. Also, come next summer, we all know that Donnie will target LeBron James, who just so happens to play the same position as Wilson Chandler. Again, that is a major gamble. Also, one of my favorites, Ron Artest is a free agent and might be lured to the idea of playing for his favorite team, even if it means playing for the MLE. There are potential replacements for Wilson Chandler.
Solution: I am not opposed to dealing away Chandler. Not in the least. I love how hard he plays, but he is inconsistent. But is dealing him for the 5th pick getting equal value? Would including him in a deal for, perhaps, Amare Stoudemire make more sense? The Wizards rejected the idea of trading Caron Butler for Amare, and if Butler is the ceiling for Amare’s trade value, then the Knicks might be able to work something out for the star PF. The best bet for the Knicks would be to try and find a way to buy a pick before Thursday. If they can somehow acquire a mid-first round pick, they can use that to sweeten the Larry Hughes for Thomas, #5, and James pot. That is easier said than done, but that scenario could work. Or would adding Duhon / Jeffries to the mix better our offer? I am not sure. This rumor has the potential to get very interesting. But if Chandler can be moved for a bona fide star, then I am not sure that the #5 pick is worth Chandler.
Dealing Wilson Chandler for a draft pick has major boom or bust potential.
Walsh has been around this league and this game to understand that it does not matter where a player gets drafted in the draft. It matters if that player can actually play.If the 5th overall pick can play better than Wilson, then go for it. If not, then do not. It is as simple as that. I’ll trust Donnie on this one.