The Knicks were 19-29 when they hosted the Portland Trailblazers at Madison Square Garden last night (Wednesday) and were in close proximity of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But Monday night’s 101-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks should have been the burning red flag that signaled Knicks owner James Dolan and GM Steve Mills to start remaking the roster and developing the young talent they already possess.
The plan should begin with trading Tyson Chandler and increasing the minutes of Jeremy Tyler. There are several teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers, that are championship caliber and in need of a veteran big man to add front court depth.
Chandler has been a solid pro in his three seasons with the Knicks, but with an expiring contract at the end of next season, he is attractive to legitimate contenders. Throwing Iman Shumpert—another appealing piece to some teams—the Knicks could execute a three-team deal and land a first-round pick in June’s draft, which they currently don’t have.
Tyler, only 22 years old, is a young, active body who could be a productive backup for years to come. He created a stir in basketball circles when, at 17, he chose to skip his senior year of high school and sign with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Super League in August of 2009.
“Coming out of high school, I had the talent and athleticism, but I was really immature and didn’t want to make a fool of myself once I got to the NBA,” Tyler said last week at the Garden. “That’s why I made the choice to [play overseas] … It’s been a roller coaster of a ride for me, but I really feel like I’m coming into my own.”
The Knicks need to find out if Tyler can be a reliable rotation player for them moving forward. They already know what they have in their veterans, which is seemingly not much.