Tuesday was the Dallas Mavericks' annual new players press conference. Introducing themselves to the Mavericks fans were Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Greg Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu. The press conference featured plenty of “I’m really excited to be here”s and just as many “can’t wait to get started”s, but of all the players in attendance the one who received the loudest cheers wasn’t holding up a Maverick jersey for the first time.
“Honestly, I’m just excited to be back,” Tyson Chandler said of his return to Dallas. “I will say we have a very talented roster and we’re going to have every opportunity in the world to compete.”
During a Q&A with the fans Chandler was asked what were the chances of him being a free agent beyond this year as he is entering the last year of his contract just like he was in 2011 when the Mavericks won a championship with him. Before Chandler was able to answer the question, Mark Cuban took the microphone to deliver his own response.
“Let’s just say I learn from my mistakes,” Cuban blurted out.
All Chandler could do was smile ... while his new teammates couldn’t help but chuckle.
Cuban was of course referring to the Mavericks’ controversial decision to not re-sign Chandler to a long-term deal after he helped deliver a championship to Dallas. Cuban offered Chandler a massive one-year deal, but wouldn’t match New York’s four-year $55 million offer due to a number of things, from injury concerns to, most famously, the belief that the new CBA would make such a contract for TY imprudent. Chandler was extremely productive in his first year with the Knicks and most of his second year, but had a noticeable drop off in production last season, making it hard to say whether or not the Mavericks made the right choice in 2011 considering the financial commitment. Regardless, the Mavericks will happily pay Chandler for the fourth and final year of his contract.
And if Cuban’s “lesson learned” is any indication (keeping in mind that the timing here is exactly right for a feel-good mea culpa) the relationship between the Mavericks and Chandler will extend past the summer of 2015.
Cuban wasn’t the only one excited about Chandler’s approach. Rick Carlisle has always been a defensive-minded coach and he finally has the defensive anchor that he relies upon to compete at the highest level defensively.
“Chandler will will us to be a better defensive team,” coach Carlisle said.
In reference to the other new players on the roster Cuban talked about a strategy the Mavericks take in searching for possible improvements to the team.
“One thing we’ve gotten really good at is finding what I call 'fallen angels,' guys who other teams had a lot of aspirations for, but for whatever reason couldn’t fit.”
Cuban mentioned that the Mavericks had been trying to trade for Greg Smith for two years, but the right opportunity never presented itself and the Mavericks were close to pulling the trigger to acquire Felton. He said that Aminu was his first call in the beginning of free agency and that Parsons will reach a higher level in Dallas than he did in Houston.
In the summer of 2010, Chandler qualified as one of those fallen angels, a veteran with raw athleticism, size, high character and great defensive instincts who still hadn’t seemed to reach his full potential or find the perfect fit with a team. Due to the use of 'The Dust Chip' in trade, he found it with the Mavericks. There wasn’t much hype to the Mavericks' acquisition of him four year years ago, but he will forever be a fan favorite.
“I absolutely missed playing here,” Chandler said. “I missed the organization. I missed the fans.”
And maybe, when it comes to TY's contractual future, the Mavs won't miss out on him again.
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