The Phoenix Suns are reportedly finalizing a buyout of veteran center Tyson Chandler, and according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Lakers are “expected to be at the front of the line to sign” Chandler when he clears waivers.
Tyson Chandler is an LA native and the Lakers' need for interior depth and defensive reinforcements is well known. Chandler is earning $13.6 million this season, which suggests he will clear waivers easily and be able to pick his next team— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 3, 2018
Then, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that it’s pretty much official: Chandler will sign with the Lakers (who have an open roster spot):
As @TheSteinLine reports, center Tyson Chandler is getting a buyout with the Suns and will become a free agent upon clearing waivers. Chandler will sign with the Lakers, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 3, 2018
Suns and Chandler have had a mutual agreement on a buyout on his $13M-plus expiring deal for some time now, but Chandler needed a landing spot. Chandler found it with Lakers, who need size, and as @espn_macmahon says, will welcome his locker room presence. https://t.co/swUWLgLOOL— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 3, 2018
The Suns signed Chandler to a four-year, $52 million deal in 2015, but the former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year fell down the rotation as Phoenix started losing games and kickstarted their youth movement.
If the Lakers sign Chandler, he won’t be expected to return to his All-Star form, but they won’t need him to. Arguably the biggest weakness with this roster is the backup center position, where head coach Luke Walton has experimented with smaller players with little success.
Chandler, a legitimate 7-footer, gives the Lakers a big body up front with more mobility and feel for the game than anyone not named JaVale McGee. That could change as rookie Moe Wagner gets reps in the G League with the South Bay Lakers, but right now Chandler is the next best center available for the team, and probably helps with their weaknesses more than Wagner does.
Chandler’s biggest strength is where he’ll help the Lakers the most: Rebounding. Chandler has averaged at least eight rebounds per game in all but five seasons in his 18-year career. He has led the NBA in offensive rebounds twice in his career. Last season, with Chandler on the floor, the Suns grabbed 29.3 percent of available offensive rebounds, a number that dropped to 25.4 percent with him off the floor.
While his production might have taken a slight dip in year’s past playing on a rebuilding Suns team, he can still prove useful in a limited role.
Chandler’s gravity while rolling to the basket should also prove useful in the second unit with the cutters like Josh Hart and Lance Stephenson as well. Outside of Ivica Zubac, who has provided little-to-no meaningful minutes on an NBA floor this season, Rondo hasn’t had a target in the pick and roll. With Chandler, that should change.
Chandler might not be the answer to all of the Lakers’ problems, but the Compton, CA native returns home to fill a need for the Lakers during a crucial time.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.