Part of that flexibility comes in the form of Samuel Dalembert's contract, which includes a team option for next season. If he were to be let go, the Knicks would owe him less than $2 million next season. Should they retain his services, however, he'd make just under $4 million.
Following the deal, waiving Dalembert would become the difference between the Knicks being able to utilize the full midlevel exception ($5 million), instead of the taxpayer mini-midlevel ($3.2 million). But as fate would have it, they'll likely choose to keep him anyway, according to reporter Marc Berman (NY Post, June 26).
According to Berman, the Knicks like Dalembert. To be fair, how could a team not see value in a contract like his? Dalembert is a respectable starting center, and has a reputation as one of the better shot-blockers in the league. Last season, he averaged 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in just 20.2 minutes per game. His career averages are a bit higher, and if he's granted more minutes, his numbers will get there and his impact will be felt.
Dalembert is an ideal center for the Knicks during this time of transition, and not simply just because of his good value. He's the type of the big man who doesn't do too much, but certainly gets the job done. What you see is what you get. Dalembert is a veteran whose reputation is well known throughout the league. He's a competitor.
In many ways, he'll provide the team with almost as much as they were given by Chandler. The former Defensive Player of the Year has been known to carry himself with a bit more energy, aggressiveness and intensity, but frankly, almost all of that was lacking for New York last season anyway.
Dalmerbert isn't as much of a fighter, nor will he be hitting the glass aiming for tip-backs quite as much. Perhaps the game comes a bit more naturally to him. Over the past three seasons, the Knicks were hoping to watch Chandler emerge as somewhat of a more formidable option on offense. That never exactly happened, so the fact that Dalembert won't make much of an impact on that side of the ball shouldn't be a concern.
Ironically enough, despite trading an all-star big man in Chandler, the Knicks can potentially remain competitive with Dalembert manning the front line. This deal had plenty to do with gaining flexibility going forward, but New York hasn't appeared to sacrifice much in player talent. Kudos to Phil Jackson.
What's more, retaining Dalembert would appear to be a smart move when considering other free agent big men as well. For all of the aforementioned reasons, the veteran would have been a reasonable target for the Knicks this summer regardless.