If Tyson Chandler merely gave the Knicks an improved presence on defense and on the glass, it would be enough.
Assuming the other shoe drops in the next few hours or days and the Knicks complete the acquisition of Chandler to be their center, he will give them something much more than that. He will give them a team that is no longer built around the next offseason or the next acquisition.
In short, he gives the team and their fans the chance to live in the precious present. That's a big step forward.
Ever since the Knicks finally pulled the plug on Isiah Thomas, the team's entire mindset has been about nothing but the future. Whether it was LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Paul, the Knicks always had at least one eye on the unknown while trying their best to make it seem like they actually cared about what was happening on the court in the here and now.
Signing Chandler to a four-year, $55-58 million deal represents a massive shift in priorities. This is now a team dealing with their actual shortcomings instead of just moving the finish line a little bit further down the road.
The biggest flaws on this Knicks team were their inability to defend and their inability to rebound well enough to spark their offense in transition. Chandler makes them markedly better in both of those areas, giving them a frontline that's as good or better than any in the league.
Chandler's arrival doesn't make them a perfect team. They need a point guard, better perimeter shooting and more help defensively, but there isn't a perfect team in the league.
The Knicks could have stood pat and held out hope that Paul or Deron Williams or Dwight Howard fell onto their doorstep after this season, but is there anyone who really wants to punt another year to hold onto the rather small hope that a player arrives?
It makes much more sense to act in the here and now to make sure the team is as good as possible because the last couple of years should be evidence enough that there's always a way to make your team better when you have a smart, aggressive front office.
Assuming, of course, David Stern allows you to actually make moves that make total basketball sense. But that's just another bit of madness that makes it clear the Knicks can't afford to sit on their hands and wait for something to happen.
You can talk about payroll flexibility and who might be available all you want, but until the Knicks actually made themselves a stronger team all of that was nothing more than fantasy.
Adding Chandler makes the Knicks a stronger team and it gives them a much better chance of remaining a strong team for the next several seasons.
There comes a point where today has to matter more than tomorrow. That day has come for the Knicks.