If you’re a fan of the NBA, the first few days of free agency most definitely aroused those basketball hormones with a bevy of moves taking place. Everyone interested continues to refresh their Twitter pages with anticipation of Woj Bombs and Chris Broussard’s sources.
It was a good day in the desert for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday afternoon, as they agreed to terms with Tyson Chandler on a four-year deal worth $52 million. For a young team looking to climb the ladder in the rigorous Western Conference, this was a bold, commendable move that came out of nowhere.
With DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love all heavily touted and sought after, Chandler flew under the radar, especially since his incumbent team, the Dallas Mavericks, are among those interested in signing Jordan.
The Mavs liked Chandler so much that after allowing him to walk away in free agency following their championship season, they brought him back via trade with the Knicks before the beginning of last season. But with him being nothing more than a contingency plan this offseason, the Suns jumped right in and upgraded their center position.
Last year in Dallas, Chandler averaged 10.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in the 75 games he played in. Filling the void that was left following his departure, Tyson was the defensive anchor, manning the middle just like he never left. The Mavericks’ defense wasn’t very good last season, but it was much better with him on the court. (The postseason was a disaster, but it’s hard to blame him for that.)
The Suns were a mediocre 17th in defensive efficiency last season, and the hope is Chandler can help improve upon that number. His propensity to not just block shots, but also alter them and effectively guard pick-and-roll will pay huge dividends for this young team.
Phoenix ranked near the bottom of the league in rebound rate, thanks in large part to often playing smaller lineups. Think Tyson can help in that area as well? Of course.
It would be egregious to assume the Suns will eradicate their small ball playing style with Chandler on board, because it does seem to be the new trend in the league. Bringing in the veteran big man won’t complicate things — one would surmise he’ll be able to thrive in this type of system.
We watched the Knicks win 54 games in the 2012-13 season thanks to not only an MVP-caliber season from Carmelo Anthony and a bunch of three-pointers, but also the dominance of Chandler. His knack for excelling on the defensive end allowed Anthony to see a lot of time at the 4. Head coach Mike Woodson used small ball to provide Melo with spacing on the floor, and Chandler’s defensive prowess was conducive to this gameplan.
Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year the season before that, although it’s easy to forget how good he was considering how poorly things ended in New York. The big man struggled toward the end of his stint with the Knicks, but much of those struggles can be attributed to injury. This signing makes sense for the Suns. With Brandon Knight now locked up for the foreseeable future and Eric Bledsoe still on the roster, Chandler provides them with veteran leadership, defensive abilities and sound basketball IQ.
Two seasons ago, the Suns won 48 games yet missed the playoffs, which is a direct testament to how tough the West is. This past season they expected to make progressive advances toward an inclusion in the top eight, but the three-guard experiment of Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Bledsoe failed.
With Dragic and Thomas on new teams, Phoenix has elected to push things in a different direction. With an eye on a possible LaMarcus Aldridge signing, the Suns sent Marcus Morris, Danny Granger and Reggie Bullock over to the Pistons for a second-round pick in 2020.
Phoenix truly believes its in the hunt for Aldridge after acquiring Chandler, and we’ll see if that pans out. Even if it doesn’t, acquiring Chandler is a nice move for the Suns after inking Knight to his new deal.