ESPN has reported that Knicks president Phil Jackson has dealt rim-protecting center Tyson Chandler and chubby point guard Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for veteran point guard José Calderón, a pair of young guards in Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin, the partially un-guaranteed contract of Samuel Dalembert, and the 34th and 51st picks in tonight's draft.
The trade gives the Knicks financial relief or flexibility for next season, as they can shave salary off their books if they choose to waive Dalembert and they may receive a traded player exception the size of Raymond Felton's roughly $3.8 million salary, into which another player may be traded. In addition, Jackson has picked up a handful of young assets in Larkin, Ellington, and the picks. Until today, New York's cupboard was just about entirely bereft of young talent, with Iman Shumpert being the one notable exception.
[Read more: Cavs Need Third Time to be the Charm]
On top of all that, the Zen Master managed to snag a point guard with a near perfect offensive skill set for his preferred Triangle Offense. Point men who can make a smart, quick decision and hit shots from beyond the arc, which is just what Jose Calderon has done for his entire career, are key cogs in a successful triangle offense. Notable examples of this are John Paxson, Steve Kerr, and even the Knicks' own coach, Derek Fisher.
Calderon has been more of a playmaker than any of those three during his career, but it's worth pointing out that the Spaniard is quietly one of the best three-point shooters ever. Of all players who have played at least 10,000 career minutes and shot at least 2.5 three pointers per game, Calderon ranks 7th all time in shooting percentage. He should be a terrific fit in Derek Fisher's starting lineup.
The downside for New York, to the extent that it exists, is that they are taking on salary for the 2015 season and beyond. It has been speculated that the Knicks would try to keep their cap sheet as clean as possible for the summer of 2015 in order to chase multiple maximum contract level players, chief among them being Kevin Durant. Still, the money is not that onerous, and sometimes it's just enough to have good players who fill a role well. Calderon fits that bill, and adding a good player while also taking a flier on a couple of young role players and grabbing some picks is a pretty solid win.
[Read more: 2014 NBA Draft Meme Power Rankings]
All of the above fanfare for Phil Jackson's first trade might make it seem as though the Mavericks have just been fleeced. That's not the case. The last time Tyson Chandler was in Dallas protecting the rim and cleaning up missed shots with putback dunks, they won the title. Chandler's older now, as is Dirk Nowitzki, but the two should still complement each other wonderfully. And the Mavs still have a nice chunk of cap space to find complementary pieces for the aforementioned duo and combo-guard Monta Ellis.
Dallas gave up a good player in Calderon, but a starting backcourt of Ellis and Calderon was never going to defend well enough to win big in the stacked Western Conference, seven-game series with the Spurs notwithstanding. Dallas chose to bet on the younger, more dynamic Ellis and to roll the dice in free agency to replace Calderon. More than anything, though, this was about Dallas getting their man.
Giving up last year's first round pick, Shane Larkin, and the 34th pick in a draft as deep as this year's may turn out to hurt a bit down the line, but the Mavericks are all in on trying to win now before Nowitzki leg-kicks his way into retirement. It's hard to blame them, especially with Dirk still playing incredible, elite-level basketball.
This deal was a win-win for both sides, but both teams still have much work to do. Yay, offseason!