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The Defensive Player Of The Year & The Burden He Puts On The Knicks

By 05.03.12
Amar'e Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. King Lawrence)

I know what you’re thinking, it’s admittedly a bit of hindsight; Stoudemire was horrible this season. But it did cross my mind when they amnestied Billups, and I definitely wasn’t alone. We all watched Stoudemire seemingly age before our eyes during last year’s playoffs.

Regardless, what’s done is done. Chandler ostensibly replaced Billups’ salary cap number and is signed through 2015. Anthony and Stoudemire have virtually identical contracts that pay each about $65 million through 2015. (I’m including ‘Melo’s $23.5 million player option for 2014-15 for obvious reasons.)

Past those three, they have Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan, a rehabbing Shumpert and the departed Renaldo Balkman signed for next year. Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin are restricted free agents. And they’re over the cap to begin with.

This isn’t to say they’d definitely have signed Deron Williams this year, or Dwight Howard next year, or whatever. It’s just that the team you see now is pretty much what you’re going to get for the next several years, and it’s fairly obvious how far they are from competing for championships. Could Donnie Walsh have figured out a better plan than Glen Grunwald by proxy for Jim Dolan? It’s hard to say, but I’d certainly have liked to find out.

[RELATED: Indiana Pacers Training Staff Mocks The Amar’e Stoudemire Injury]

Back to Chandler: Knicks fans love him, and rightfully so. He plays hard and within his abilities, he’s good at what he does and he’s restored some much-needed toughness to the team. But he visibly wore down over the course of the season, and he’s had ankle and toe injuries in the past. Chandler will be just 30 when next season begins, but the Knicks own him for seasons 12-14 of his career, and as such, he’s no spring chicken.

There’s no doubt Chandler deserved his Defensive Player of the Year Award for the short-term sea changes he brought to the Knicks’ modus operandi. But by signing him, they locked themselves into an insolvent situation for the next three years. The Heat are in a similar boat. But the difference is the Heat are in that boat with a championship-caliber team.

In the short term, Chandler delivered exactly what he was supposed to. If making the playoffs was the goal, bringing him on was obviously a great way to achieve that. But I’ve long dreamed of watching the Knicks compete for a championship, and in as such, as good as Chandler was this season, it’s difficult to argue that signing him was completely worth it in the long run.

Have the Knicks made the right moves in the past two years?

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