One of the key pieces to the Dallas Mavericks' championship run last summer may be on the verge of leaving the team.
Tyson Chandler, who is credited with changing Dallas' defensive culture before its title run, is reportedly in serious talks with the New York Knicks on a new contract. If he does leave, Chandler would become the first big free agent to sign a deal once the NBA's new labor deal is ratified.
ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that New York moved past Golden State in the race for Chandler and a source says, "It's 98 percent sure that Tyson is going to wind up with the Knicks."
The move was thought to have been a precursor to the Knicks eventaually landing Chris Paul in a trade with New Orleans. Paul was reportedly traded in a deal to Los Angeles, but the NBA wiped out the proposed trade. Paul was thought to have longed for a reunion with Chandler, as the two previously played together with the Hornets. If they can lock up Chandler, the Knicks would be in position to offer star forward Amare Stoudamire to New Orleans in a trade for Paul, provided that the league would allow the move.
New York would also most likely part ways with Chauncey Billups and Ronny Turiaf through trades or the new NBA amnesty clause in order to make room for Chandler.
CSNBayArea.com reported that the Warriors have a four-year offer valued at $60 million on the table for Chandler and will try to outbid the Knicks. Golden State has made him its top target in what is sure to be a wild free agent signing period before the season gets under way on Christmas Day.
With Chandler in talks with other teams, it seems as if the Mavericks will let him walk without putting up much of a fight. Mark Cuban's team is instead concerned with staying as far under the cap as possible before the 2012 free agents like Paul, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams become available.
With star player Dirk Nowitzki getting older, the Mavs want to add another big name to compliment Dirk's talent. It seems as if Chandler has moved on as well, telling ESPN last week, "I really think I'm going to be on a new team come training camp."
It is no secret that Paul would prefer to sign a long-term deal with a big-market franchise. If the Knicks go through with the move to bring Chandler to town, they could have a shot at landing Paul as well, but if Paul is off the market, New York could have second thoughts about the signing.