Ahead of his debut, Chandler appeared on with “Mason and Ireland” on ESPN LA about his road back home to Los Angeles, which according to Chandler started as early as last week.
“The talks with me and the Suns started Thursday or so, Thursday or Friday,” Chandler said. “And right after that I had to start thinking about where I wanted to go. And there was four or five teams kinda in the mix, and then I had to really go with my heart and I chose the Lakers.”
Chandler grew up all over Southern California, including in Fresno and San Bernardino, but he played high school basketball at Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton. Throughout his illustrious 17-year-career, Chandler had contemplated returning to L.A., but he didn’t feel comfortable doing so until just recently.
“I think where I’m at in my career and where I’m at in my life, I definitely had those thoughts before that playing in L.A. could potentially be a distraction, you’ve got all your family members, your friends and all of that, but where I am in my life and in my career now, I’ve sort of been there, done all of that,” Chandler said.
“So for me, playing out now, it’s like my legacy and the ending of my chapters. And the opportunity to be able to come back and be a part of something that I think has a really bright future, and is getting a head of steam. I thought it’d be awesome to come back and contribute to it.”
The 36-year-old said that he already has friends and family members asking him for tickets and it’s no wonder why. Along with seeing Chandler play in what will surely be one of his final seasons in the NBA, they’ll get tickets to see LeBron James in the purple and gold.
Chandler said playing with James is one of the reasons he settled on the Lakers, but not the only one.
”I love the opportunity to be able to play with LeBron,” Chandler said. “And Magic and Rob, I’ve been watching and I love what they’re doing. I love the young players and the pieces that they’re putting around the young players to not only try to win now but try and grow for the future, and I just love the style of play.
“The energy that’s surrounding the Lake Show right now is something I want to be a part of.”
Chandler will be joining a Lakers team that only has two more wins than the 2-8 Phoenix Suns, but he has confidence that the young players on the team will take the steps necessary to compete in the Western Conference this season.
”I have high expectations to be quite honest, because I think the young players are very seasoned,” Chandler said. “I think the young players around here are not very typical. I watched the pace the play at, the passion and I see how much they’ve grown as a unit from year one, to year two to year three. Being able to watch that, I’ve been impressed with it, and I’m looking forward to helping them and guiding them and sharing some of my knowledge.”
Chandler is well-regarded as a great locker room guy, but he didn’t come to L.A. to just be a good veteran.
The Lakers have struggled to protect the paint this season because of their lack of viable options at the center position. He might not be the defensive stalwart he once was, but his size and understanding of the game fills an immediate need for head coach Luke Walton.
Signing Chandler wasn’t a particularly sexy move by the front office, but even in a limited role he’ll be able to address a ton of issues the Lakers have on both ends of the floor. It’s too early to call the signing a complete success, but there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about what Chandler can bring to the table, and it sounds like Chandler is just as thrilled.
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