Donnie Walsh said last week that he is going to sign Chandler, which raises questions about whether or not the Knicks will pursue Carmelo Anthony, and if they intend to do so, where will the extra cap room from?
Using the benchmark of $58 million (that assumes no drastic changes to the cap this offseason), the Knicks will have $16 million in cap room. That leaves just enough to sign Melo to a max contract. However, in order to offer that contract to Melo, the Knicks will have to denounce their Bird rights to Chandler, who will be a restricted free agent. Under the current bargaining agreement, Chandler's cap hold will be the higher dollar value of his qualifying offer ($3.1 mil) or the first year of a proposed contract (which is expected to be from $8-10 mil). Therefore, to be bring back Chandler and sign Melo will require Donnie & Co. to free up another 5 million dollars of cap space (as Chandler's $3 million qualifying offer was included in the $42 milion calculated above).Danilo Gallinari will make $4.1 million next year, making him the easiest solution to solve the current quandary. If this option is considered, it will be because the front office is asking itself "Who is a more valued asset to the team's future: Gallo or Chandler?"
While Gallo is a deadly 3 point shooter and is a perfect fit for D'Antoni's offense, he offers the Knicks little else besides spreading the floor on offense. He is a below average defender, rebounder, and has trouble penetrating. When he does successfully penetrate, it is often at a very deliberate pace and he has not yet shown the ability to consistently alter his shot on a drive. Additionally, with his history of injuries (granted that this past one was unavoidable), there is no reason to believe that Gallo will ever gain the explosiveness that will elevate his play to the next level.
Chandler, on the other hand, is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. He can defend three positions well, is an explosive scorer and driver, and is improving his outside game. In fact, Gallo and Chandler's 3 point shooting numbers are identical (Chandler shoots .371 over 4.9 attempts per game versus Gallo's .370 over 5.0 attempts). Chandler is an athlete who can score and can make plays happen. For instance, Chandler consistently throws down highlight-reel dunks, whereas every Gallo slam warrants shock from the broadcasters.
Chandler has hit the point where he can consistently knock down shots, but more importantly, he is not solely a 3 point shooter. Gallo can be replaced with a shooter cheaply via the draft or free agency, but Chandler's talent, production, and potential will be hard to find elsewhere. A 2011-12 lineup of Stoudemire, Chandler, Anthony, Fields, Felton will achieve greater achievement than a Stoudemire, Anthony, Gallinari, Fields, Felton lineup.The latter lineup will be more suspect defensively and may be more limited on offense. Chandler brings an explosiveness and defense that override all of Gallo's positive factors (outside shooting).
Of course, the easiest solution would be to find another way to free up the money necessary to sign Carmelo and retain Chandler and Gallo. To do so, good ol' Donnie will have to get creative with Turiaf and Randloph's contracts.