Former Mavericks Center, Tyson Chandler, Needs a Hug


Tyson Chandler, the best center in the history of the Mavericks franchise, still doesn’t understand the way free agency in professional sports works.

He doesn’t get it. He still doesn’t understand the way free agency works in the NBA. A system designed to empower the players, somehow continues to disrespect the 33 year old Phoenix Suns center. For the second time in his career, the Dallas Mavericks had the audacity to not offer him a contract north of four-years $50M.

"“I definitely felt like, after winning a championship and help bring it there, that I was going to be there for the long run,” Chandler said Tuesday to “I never heard of a championship team being broken up like that. When they traded for me to come back, I sat at the podium with everyone else and heard them say this was going to be a long-term deal and they weren’t going to make the same mistake as last time and blah blah blah. Seven months later, the same thing happens again. But I learned in this business you can’t trust everybody. That’s why it is what it is.”"

It’s sad the relationship between Chandler and the Mavericks had to play out like this. Chandler really did play a critical role on the 2011 Championship Team. As the top defender on the court, Chandler was even considered by many as the MVP of the team. Yet, he was allowed to leave in free agency following that championship run.

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That time, much like this summer, the Mavericks didn’t want to re-sign an aging player with an injury history, to a lucrative multi-year deal. And just like this last free agency period, the Mavs had their eyes on a significant upgrade.

That might not be nice to hear if you’re Tyson Chandler but that’s the way business works. This isn’t any different for you or me, either. Employers are always looking for better options in products, systems, and personnel. They’re supposed to. It’s called being a responsible business and the reason we invest in them to subsidize our retirements.

The difference in Tyson Chandler’s case, is that he was still able to accept lucrative deals elsewhere and never missed a single paycheck. It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who’s complaining about making over $100M in cities other than his very top choice.

And it’s not even as if the Mavericks didn’t offer an extension. As reported by Eddie Sefko, the Mavs made an offer before last season but Chandler wanted to wait until free agency so he could tack on that extra year to the contract. When that day came, the Mavs had a change of heart.

“I feel like the whole situation was all bad – twice.”

As I stated on the eve of free agency this summer, Tyson Chandler is a proud and overly-sensitive personality. He needs to be committed to or shown the door because he will not stand by, for even a second, if he thinks the Mavericks are trying to upgrade from him.

Tyson Chandler did exactly that when he signed with Phoenix right out of the gate. When asked about waiting for Dallas to finish negotiations with DeAndre Jordan before deciding, Tyson had this to say,

"“I’m pretty high in this league so that ain’t my position. I didn’t feel like I needed to play second fiddle to anybody. I felt like I didn’t deserve that. I felt that I’ve accomplished a lot in this league and I wasn’t going to play second fiddle to anybody.”"

It’s true, Tyson Chandler ranks in the top half of NBA centers. ESPN’s Hollinger ratings ranked Chandler as the NBA’s #12 center based on the Player Efficiency Ratings. That’s pretty good. In Estimated Wins Averaged Chandler rated as the NBA’s #8 center. Again — pretty good, but not great or beyond upgradable status by any means.

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After all, DeAndre Jordan and all of his free throw shooting woes, was a considerable upgrade in talent, age, and health. He’s a lure to future free agents and a building block to the next generation. And the Mavs came thiiiiiiiiiis close to signing him too. It was a gamble worth taking considering how close they came and how monumental the move would have been.

But the Mavs lost the gamble and the highly-paid Chandler is still bitter about the situation.

Loyalty just doesn’t have a place in professional sports. It’s about doing what’s best for you as a player and you as a team. Players shouldn’t be blamed for leaving in free agency. It’s their right and their choice to do what seems right. The same goes for teams. Teams have a right and a choice on who they would like to invest in.

Loyalty may work if money is no object but when dealing with a salary cap, loyalty can sink a franchise. With the salary cap, teams are punished for making irresponsible financial decisions. The Mavericks saw the risk in investing in Chandler – both times – and wanted to invest elsewhere.

"“To be honest, I don’t know what my emotions are going to be like going in there until I get there,” Chandler said about last night’s game in Dallas. “I feel like the whole situation was all bad – twice.”"

You’d think at 33 years of age he’d understand how this works and that statements and promises made yesterday can change on a dime in the ever-evolving world of professional sports. You’d think that not wanting to hand a person millions of dollars is a business decision and not a personal attack. You’d think…

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Mark Cuban loves Dirk Nowitzki with every fiber of his being, but if Lebron James told Cuban “him or me”, you can bet Cuban would send Dirk packing and sign LeBron. It’s a sad reality that we’re all replaceable, but it’s reality nonetheless. Someone give Chandler a hug (and a clue) because he clearly doesn’t realize he’s the winner in this whole thing and that’s exactly what free agency is meant to do.

On second thought, Dirk may be the exception but you get the point.