Tyson Chandler became a scapegoat for everything that went wrong with the pre-Phil Jackson Knicks. Last season he missed a lot of time with a broken leg and was never fully back and in his groove. On his way out the door, Phil Jackson took a shot at Chandler as he traded him to Dallas, saying moving him and Raymond Felton was part of changing the chemistry with the Knicks.
Tonight, Knicks fans can get a reminder of what a healthy, motivated Chandler looks like when New York travels to Dallas — he looks defensively back closer to the guy that won a Defensive Player of the Year award in New York. Think the Knicks could use a defender like that in their lineup right about now?
Chandler was annoyed with the comments from Jackson but told the New York Post he’s moved on.
“I don’t know why they did that,’’ Chandler said of Jackson’s remark about needing to change the chemistry with the Chandler-Felton trade in late June. “Only they can answer that question. I’ve since then moved on and don’t pay it any much attention. I know a lot of the media will be returning and me going against my former team. But in all honesty I’ve kind of swept it behind. It’s in the past and under the rug and I’m moving on with my future here.’’
His future is bright because Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows how to use him.
Chandler is a poor fit in the triangle because he isn’t a classic post-up big nor does he have an elbow/midrange jumper. So you can defend Jackson for shipping Chandler out because he would have added to the mess that is New York’s rhombus-looking offense.
But he has real strengths — he sets a mean pick and rolls hard to the rim, has good hands and can finish. So that’s what the Mavs and their elite offense do — Jameer Nelson or Monta Ellis come off his big picks then make their plays. The result is that Chandler is averaging 10.3 points a game on a ridiculous 69.7 percent shooting. So far this season he has an All-Star level PER of 22.7, which would be a career high (a number bolstered by his 10.3 rebounds a game).
He’s key to their offense because when he rolls they space the floor with Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons, guys you can’t help off. The result is a 115.2 points per 100 possessions offense in Dallas — that is five points better than the No. 2 team (Toronto).
Most of us read the Chandler trade as the Mavs plugging the dam on a bottom-10 defense, and to a large degree, that was accurate. But Dallas also viewed Chandler as a keystone in what could be a historically great offense — a scoring machine so ruthless, the Mavs could chase a title in Dirk Nowitzki’s twilight without an elite defense.
“When we can spread the floor with Tyson or [Brandan Wright] rolling,” Nowitzki says, “it’s a bitch to guard.”
Dallas has a ways to go, as an ugly loss to Indiana this week showed. They are a work in process.
But Chandler still has a lot of good basketball left in him. Something the Knicks will get reminded of Wednesday night.