The Phoenix Suns and Tyson Chandler finalized a buyout of the remaining year left on his contract on Sunday, and Chandler is reportedly ready to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers when he clears waivers. If that’s how things go down, LeBron James will be happy.
After the Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night to end a 16-game losing streak against that franchise, James shared his thoughts on the Lakers’ newest addition with reporters (via Spectrum Sportsnet):
“I love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran. A guy who plays hard, and a guy who’s very smart, and another champion to add to the champions that we have,” James said. “That adds depth in our frontcourt, which we’ve had trouble with at times. Between (Ivica Zubac), Tyson, JaVale (McGee) and (Johnathan Williams), we’re pretty good.”
Chandler isn’t what he once was, but for a Lakers team that defends like one of the best teams in the NBA when McGee is on the court and craters when McGee sits, Chandler just needs to provide 15-20 good minutes a night to allow Lakers head coach Luke Walton to keep McGee at a more sustainable minutes load.
As a pick and roll threat who can also protect the rim, Chandler should be able to help the Lakers in a lot of the same ways McGee does, even if he doesn’t do so with exactly the same effectiveness.
Chandler also helps in one of the areas the Lakers are weakest, as according to Cleaning the Glass, Chandler only fouled opposing players on 3.2 percent of his possessions last year. That ranks in the 80th percentile in the NBA, and Chandler has been at least that good or better each of the last four seasons. For the Lakers — who have fouled the ninth-most (23.6 per game) of any team in the NBA — Chandler gives them a physical player who can defend without fouling.
And as James mentions, Chandler not only adds another champion to the Lakers’ locker room, but also one of the most respected veterans in the NBA as well. While the team has tried to downplay any drama over the last few days, a sage presence like Chandler certainly can’t hurt if there are any fractures within the team.
This may not quite be the overjoyed reaction James had to the Cleveland Cavaliers acquiring Timofey Mozgov during his first year back there, but combined with the win against Portland, the addition of Chandler is fresh air for a franchise that definitely needed some after a dramatic Friday leading into the weekend.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.