Chandler deal puts focus on free agency for Mavs
DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler is ready to tell Carmelo Anthony why he loved Dallas and never wanted to leave after helping the franchise win its first title three years ago.
The veteran center just isn’t planning on bombarding his former New York teammate with phone calls and text messages while Anthony ponders free agency.
The Mavericks re-acquired Chandler in a trade with the Knicks, who hope to re-sign Anthony after he opts out of his contract on July 1. The six-player deal left Dallas with no picks in Thursday night’s draft. The Mavericks sent two second-rounders to New York.
"I know how it is," said Chandler, who signed a four-year deal with the Knicks when the Mavericks decided not to offer him a long-term contract after the 2011 championship. "Everybody is kind of blowing your phone up. When he comes to Dallas or what have you, that’s when you have the opportunity to answer any questions as needed because that’s what a player wants."
As thrilled as they are to have Chandler back three years after they thought future salary-cap restrictions were going to tie their hands, the Mavericks want to turn the trade into more of what president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson might call "star power."
Dirk Nowitzki is joining Anthony in free agency, but it’s safe to assume the big German will agree to a new contract at a substantially lower salary to complete the reunion of the title-winning frontcourt with Chandler. Nowitzki’s new deal should leave the Mavericks enough cap room to offer a maximum contract. Nelson can’t name names right now, so the best way to put it is that Anthony reportedly has Dallas on a short list if he chooses a new home.
"He’s a great dude," said Chandler, who was paired with Anthony all three of his seasons in New York. "He wants to win and he wants to be in a system and he wants to be in a culture. I think that’s going to go into a big part of his decision-making."
Those are several of the reasons Chandler cherished the only season he spent with the Mavericks.
The roster is drastically different after three straight years of significant turnover, but the Mavericks have an intriguing trio in Nowitzki, Chandler and Monta Ellis.
The playmaking guard helped Dallas get back to the playoffs and earn the distinction of being the only playoff team to push title-winning San Antonio to seven games in a first-round loss.
"I believe he’s a draw," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I know Dirk’s a draw. Tyson will be a draw and we’ve got other good players under contract, too. And I believe we’ll have an opportunity to get a lot of guys back that have been here and are high priorities for us as well."
Topping the "others" list are Shawn Marion, Devin Harris and Vince Carter.
Marion has been the most important defensive piece since he arrived in Dallas five years ago. Harris was a frequent late-game option at point guard for Carlisle after missing the first half of the season for toe surgery, and Carter’s energy off the bench played a big role.
"I watched the team compete in the playoffs and give San Antonio everything they could handle," Chandler said. "If you can challenge the champs like that and be a play or two away from actually advancing, that means you’re close. So I think this team is close."
Part of his pitch to Anthony?
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