When JaVale McGee is on the court, the Lakers are 6.3 points per 100 possessions better on defense. Or, look at it this way: When he is on the court the Lakers have allowed 105.3 points per 100 possessions, which would be fifth in the NBA.
But then he has to sit. The Lakers’ most used non-McGee lineup — Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, LeBron James, Lance Stephenson, Kyle Kuzma – gets outscored by 24.6 points per 100. When McGee is out, the Lakers are a bottom 10 defense.
Which is why the gamble on Tyson Chandler makes sense for them. Chandler may not have much left in the tank, we shall see, but the Lakers need to do something.
Chandler cleared waivers, as first reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Then, as expected, he signed with the Lakers.
His contract with the Lakers is for the veteran minimum of $2.1 million — which not-so-coincidentally is how much of a discount he gave Phoenix off the $13.5 million they owed him this season.
Chandler is a big body, a guy who can call out coverages, gets rebounds, and on a veteran team may be able to stake out a role as a backup big off the bench who helps the interior defense. Or maybe not — the past two seasons the Suns’ defense was not appreciably better when Chandler was in the game. Once a very active and mobile defender, at age 36 he is not that anymore, and the players going against him can either pop out off a pick or force a switch, either way he struggles to defend in space anymore. He certainly is not going to be able to run the floor like the Lakers prefer.
Maybe Chandler works out well for the role the Lakers need him. If not, this is a low-risk gamble and the Lakers can just move one. Come the buyout season next February there likely will be some quality big men (Robin Lopez‘s name comes to mind) who could be on the market.