In a surprise, the New York Knicks have reportedly become the leaders to obtain the services of free-agent center Tyson Chandler.
Chandler, a 29-year-old seven-footer whose defensive presence last season was crucial to the Dallas Mavericks' championship, had reportedly been holding the Golden State Warriors in highest regard. The Warriors are reportedly ready to offer Chandler a four-year, $60-million deal as soon as the free agency period officially begins on Friday.
But the Knicks can offer Chandler a better opportunity to play for a contender. Ken Berger notes that New York could retrieve the necessary cap space by using the amnesty clause to release Chauncey Billups, then parting ways with Ronnie Turiaf. League sources tell Berger the Knicks have jumped to the top of Chandler's list, though the Mavericks and Warriors are still in pursuit.
Despite his game-changing ability to defend the rim, Chandler does not come without risk. Before a mostly-healthy run in Dallas last season, Chandler had struggled through two consecutive injury-riddled seasons. In February of 2009, a trade that would have sent Chandler to Oklahoma City was blocked when Chandler failed a physical. After examining Chandler's big toe, an Oklahoma City team physician named Dr. Carlan Yates found that there was a high likelihood of reinjury. At the time, Chandler said Yates "doesn't know how long I'll last."
The center averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in 74 games last year.