Saying that Tyson Chandler won the Mavericks an NBA title would not be far off. You can’t point to him as the sole difference maker, but then, this a team sport, who is? (A: Jordan) But he was in large part the biggest differential in the Mavericks teams that had failed for ten years and the one that finally captured the ring. It was his toughness at both ends of the floor, his control of the paint, his crafty, smart plays combined with simple brute force that separated the Mavericks from the Lakers, the Thunder, the Heat.
So he’s got to come back to Dallas, right?
Slipped into the beginning of a wider-ranging interview with ESPN earlier this week, Chandler dropped an interesting nugget about how contract talks went before the lockout began and no one can talk to anyone. From ESPN:
In late June, after the title, the Mavericks had a period when they could have negotiated a new contract with you before the lockout. What happened?
Chandler: We talked about getting something done before the lockout, but it just didn’t happen. … we were so far apart, we might as well not have even met.
That last part is surprising. It indicates that either Chandler considers his contributions important enough to trump the total effort of trying to keep the Mavericks’ championship core together, that his age (Chandler turns 29 this fall, but has a lot of miles on his tires) and injury concerns are irrelevant to the conversation, or that the Mavericks are wanting Chandler to return for significantly less than market value just for the good of the team.
This Mavericks team was marked by experience. Veteran, some would say old players who understand how the game works, and how the business of the game works. It was a fairly close-knit, but very mercenary group of players. To that end, it should be no surprise to the Mavericks that Chandler is going to look to get his. Yes, this team would love to come back and try and recreate the magic, but Chandler knows how big a part he played in that championship run, and he’s going to pursue getting that last big contract to set up his retirement at its end (depending on how long the max contract is after the CBA).
Whenever this stupid lockout ends, it’s going to be a challenge for the Mavs to determine just how much they want the “difference maker” who’s not a star back on their team. Good centers in this league don’t grow on trees.