The Zen of Phil: Mavs and Knicks Exchange Players and Picks Before Draft

The Zen of Phil: Mavs and Knicks Exchange Players and Picks Before Draft

It’s not often the New York Knicks work out a trade where they actually have draft picks coming back to them. It’s been par for the Knickerbocker course, over seemingly the last eternity, that they’re the ones constantly in the position of relinquishing draft picks, normally in exchange for an assortment of “me first” has-beens, and never-will-be players that can’t get the team out of the first round, if they get them to the playoffs at all.

But, why bring up old stuff? This is the Zen of Phil, and when the dust cloud settled from Wednesday’s trade involving two draft picks and six players that Phil Jackson pulled off with the Dallas Mavericks, he gave Knicks fans everywhere reason to believe that the days of trading first-round picks and future All-Stars for a bag of rocks and a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club might indeed be behind them.

So, let’s grade this trade!


The New York Knicks receive: Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, the 34 and 51 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.

I will say at the outset, I love this deal for the Knicks–more for what it represents than for the players and picks actually involved. Phil Jackson has put the Knicks back on the receiving end of good players and young talent, a place they desperately need to be.

They really have to like what they’re getting from Dallas here. First, most analysts believe that there are anywhere from 30-45 players in this draft who can arrive in year one, and have immediate impacts as starters or rotational players. For that reason, the Knicks really have to like getting pick 34. Pick 51 is a little outside the “immediate impact zone” and leans a little bit more to bench/developmental player. But, don’t forget the Knicks could also package those two picks together to move into the first round.

Either way it provides options and flexibility.

As far as the players the Knicks are getting, the deal is interesting as well. The chances that Samuel Dalembert will actually ever play for the Knicks are kind of remote, but the team can save $2 million dollars against their already-strained cap figure for next year by waving Dalembert.

While Dalembert will likely not play for the Knicks, Jose Calderon likely will and for significant time. Calderon plays no defense, we know this, but neither did Raymond Felton who in addition to not playing defense also proved to be an off-the-court headache when his wife accused him of threatening her with a pistol. Calderon, on the other hand, brings few headaches and has a solid basketball IQ, coupled with excellent ball movement skills from the point and one of the best spot-up shots in the game, which of course meshes well with the Triangle offense that Phil Jackson will want to implement.

Shane Larkin gives the Knicks depth, plus the great unknown. He was a key player in Miami’s run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and was thought of highly in the NBA Draft last year. He could either boom or bust. But, you have to like the idea of Larkin learning under the tutelage of recently-retired Guard and recently-hired Head Coach Derek Fisher. Wayne Ellington brings quality perimeter shooting, but other than that he’s the “other guy” in this trade.

The only thing preventing me from giving the Knicks a full, five-star grade for this deal is concern over adding Calderon’s $22 million dollar contract to an already bad cap situation. But, other than the dollars and cents, which Knicks owner James Dolan has plenty of, this deal is more than solid.

Grade: 4 Stars


The Dallas Mavericks receive: Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton

I don’t know what’s in the water in Dallas, but the same strong offense/no defense having illness that has stricken the Cowboys, seems to have also claimed the Mavericks. Had the Mavericks possessed even a little defense, they might have upset the eventual-champion Spurs in the first round. Alas, Rick Carlisle’s bid to win a championship by playing first team to 140 eventually fell flat.

Enter a new old face in Tyson Chandler. Chandler was huge in the Mavs’ championship run in 2011. Since then neither the Mavs nor Chandler have fared as well. Chandler did have a Defensive Player of the Year season for the Knicks, but he followed up with a defensive collapse that made the Maginot Line look stout by comparison.

Ray Felton won’t help by bringing defense. In fact, I’m not sure what Ray Felton will help with, except getting Devin Harris re-signed. With Felton’s patented “Ole’!” brand of defense, Dallas will need a solid defender at the point to pair with, or even outright replace Felton, and the veteran Harris is capable of that.

But Dallas’ big gain in this trade, outside of the much needed defense they’ll get from Chandler, is financial flexibility. It should come as no shock that a team headed-up by Mark Cuban would be particularly effective in putting itself in a position to cash-in, and that’s just what they’ve done, specifically by off-loading Calderon’s $22 million plus, in addition to that of the other players in the trade.

But, Mavs fans should not sweat the loss of the two draft picks; the entire organizational focus for Cuban’s bunch is getting Dirk Nowitzki another ring before he rides off into the sunset, a goal that will be furthered a lot more by clearing cap space to land a top-flight free agent this summer, as opposed to taking chances on possible rotational players in the draft.

Grade: 5 Stars