The Los Angeles Lakers faced questions heading into the season over the lack of size on their roster, and that deficiency plagued them in most of their first 10 games. The Lakers addressed the void by signing Tyson Chandler, who is expected to make his debut with the team Wednesday.
Chandler was in the final year of a four-year, $52 million contract signed with the Phoenix Suns. That he was bought out of the deal and cleared waivers was not a surprise but the timing certainly was.
In most cases, a player is not bought out until much later in the season. “Honestly, I was just shocked that this was able to happen this early in the season,” Chandler said after his first practice with the Lakers.
“I figured this was going to happen this year but I thought it would happen in February or March. It’s such a blessing for it to happen now, because I get an opportunity to come in, get in early, get some momentum, guys get to learn me, I get to learn them.
“When you spend a whole year and then come last minute, you’ve got five or six weeks to try and get right before the playoffs, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I’m glad it happened right now because it gives me a lot more time to get acclimated.”
Not only was the veteran center presented with an earlier-than-expected opportunity at a change of scenery, the transition is all the more special for the Southern California native. Chandler starred at Dominguez High School before being taken No. 2 in the 2001 NBA Draft.
“It’s exciting. Being from here, watching the tradition over the years, and then being able to be in the building, see all the (retired) numbers up there, it’s pride,” Chandler said.
“I honestly can’t describe the feeling. My adrenaline gets running just through shootaround, because you see guys and you feel the buzz, and I know what I can bring to the team. I was telling Magic, I’m looking forward to getting this first game out of the way so then I can start building.
“I’m looking forward to day-by-day building blocks and trying to add layers to what we have going on.”
Chandler believes his leadership, vocal presence on the court and rebounding will help correct a Lakers defense that in his estimation has the tools to be an improved unit on that end of the floor.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton and LeBron James both championed Chandler’s veteran experience as being a valuable tool for the young roster. James traced his knowledge and awareness of Chandler all the back to his time at Dominguez.
The two were also teammates on Team USA and opponents in the 2011 NBA Finals when the Dallas Mavericks knocked off James and the Miami Heat. But don’t expect Chandler to use that for good-natured ribbing.
“He went on to win several more so I can’t say anything,” he said with a laugh. “He trumps my one with a whole bunch of them and MVPs, too. I’ll leave that talk alone. I’m happy with the one I got.”