Chandler focused on Suns’ beginning, not Mavericks’ ending
PHOENIX — The scheduling Gods rarely miss an opportunity.
Mere months after Tyson Chandler was basically shunned from Dallas — for a second time — the Suns’ biggest offseason addition gets a chance to exact a bit of revenge on opening night with his new team.
Chandler was an afterthought to the Mavericks when free agency opened in July. Dallas owner Mark Cuban had his sights set on the younger DeAndre Jordan, and Chandler quickly agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with the Suns.
It was the second time the Mavericks spurned Chandler, who helped bring an NBA championship to Dallas in 2011 and was offered only a one-year contract the following offseason. After Chandler signed with the Knicks and was brought back to Dallas via a trade three years later, Cuban vowed during the re-introductory press conference to learn from "my mistakes."
Chandler said after he was brought back to the Mavericks that he thought he would finish his career with them.
But here the Mavericks come to Talking Stick Resort Arena, where Chandler now is expected to anchor the paint and the locker room with his defense and leadership, starting with Wednesday night’s season opener.
Chandler last week characterized Cuban’s description of the Mavericks’ pursuit of Jordan over him — a pursuit that ultimately was fruitless in a rather embarrassing way — as "bull—-."
Cuban recently told a Dallas radio station Chandler has a right to feel "salty" about the situation.
Still, that likely won’t make Wednesday’s meeting any more amicable. Chandler was able to get out some of the emotion around his latest departure when the Suns went to Dallas to close out the preseason. Of course, Chandler didn’t play that night, and neither did many of the Mavericks’ rotation players.
"I’ve been through it before. This is nothing new for me," Chandler said on Tuesday. "I’m locked in on what we have to accomplish as a team.
"Every first game of the season is emotional, and me coming into a new city with new teammates it’s going to be emotional because I want to get us off to the right start. I play with my heart on my sleeve, that’s just my personality. But I’ve been through this plenty of times, so I know kind of how to contain myself."
Eric Bledsoe added a bit of levity to the situation.
"He’s been playing against teams he left his whole career," the Suns guard said of Chandler. "It’s not going to faze him. It’s just another game he wants to win."
Mush is expected of Chandler with his sixth franchise. He will anchor what Jeff Hornacek and his coaching staff hope is an improved defense. He will provide a big target at the rim for Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight in the pick-and-roll offense.
He will provide needed leadership in the locker room, mentoring to fellow center Alex Len and a mature example to volatile Markieff Morris.
"He’s a guy back there who’s going to have to anchor everything, get guys to play every possession defensively," Hornacek said. "Hopefully there’s not too many mistakes defensively, but if there is he’s back there to help clean it up and get us rebounds.
"They’re ready to go. They’re tired of all the practicing. These guys are just ready to get out on the court for real."
Based on his 14 seasons in the league, getting the season off to a good start is important, Chandler said.
"You want to get off to a great start because you never know throughout the season what’s going to happen," he said. "You never know what’s going to happen late. You want to pile up as many wins as you can.
"I felt like we came into this camp and all gave it our all and bonded together and are all on the same page. We have to take that now, and its starts tomorrow, of what could be an incredible year."
- Alex Len
- Brandon Knight
- Dallas Mavericks
- Eric Bledsoe
- FOX Sports Arizona
- FOX Sports Arizona - Suns
- Markieff Morris
- Phoenix Suns
- Tyson Chandler