Newsday’s Alan Hahn calls the Knicks’ probable signing of free agent C Tyson Chandler (above), “all but a foregone conclusion”, but it’s the sort of quality acquisition that all but signals an end to the pipe dream of landing disgruntled Hornets G Chris Paul in the near future. As the New York Times’ Steve Adamek explains, the cost of a new multi-year pact for Chandler, “would wipe out the Knicks’ salary cap space for next season, which they might have used to sign Paul or any other high-priced free agent.” If Stat, Anthony and CP3 would’ve represented a Northern answer to Miami’s Big 3, we’ll just have to hope a Big 2 1/2 (without a top flight point guard) is enough to get by.

(The addition of Chandler) would also require the Knicks to create cap room for Chandler this season by waiving Chauncey Billups (and his $14.2 million expiring contract) via the amnesty provision in the new collective bargaining agreement. That would leave the Knicks without a point guard other than Toney Douglas and the first-round pick Iman Shumpert, pending a low-budget move to get one who would not count against their cap.

Steve Nash, for instance, has an $11.7 million expiring deal, and the Knicks could get him only if Phoenix waived him under the amnesty clause, enabling the Knicks (or any other team) to sign him for the veteran’s minimum or one of the salary-cap exceptions.

Yet, using amnesty on Billups still would not create enough room for Chandler, so the incumbent (and only pure center on the Knicks’ roster) Rony Turiaf and his expiring $4.36 million contract would have to go.

The Knicks’ inability to produce a strong enough package (Billups, possibly Douglas and draft picks) to procure Paul before he becomes a free agent is almost certainly the reason they have gone to Plan B by pursuing Chandler.