With the Warriors, Chandler would have filled an immediate need and could have even been the team’s starting center until DeMarcus Cousins returned from injury. It also would have given him an opportunity to return to basketball’s biggest stage for the first time since 2011, and possibly the last time in his career.
So why did Chandler instead sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, who at the time were 4-6?
“Honestly, I was leaning more towards Golden State at the beginning. Just because that’s kind of you know what you’re getting,” Chandler said. “I’m also close with a couple of the guys over there. But when I sat back and thought about my legacy, I’m like, ‘What would mean more to me?’”
Chandler is confident he would have been able to help the Warriors in their pursuit of a third consecutive NBA championship, but he said the situation in Los Angeles was too good from him to pass up:
“Of course I could’ve been a help there; I feel like I could be a help anywhere I go,” Chandler said. “But for me, this was the bigger obstacle, and to me it would mean more to win here. This is where I’m from, and then there was watching Magic [Johnson] while I was younger, and then getting the chance to compete with LeBron [James] and appreciating everything he stands for on and off the court.”
It’s safe to say the Lakers are glad he chose them.
Since Chandler joined the Lakers in November, they have the fourth-ranked defense in the NBA. Prior to Chandler signing on, they were ranked 24th in the league in defensive rating.
While their drastic uptick in defensive production might not be solely because of him, Chandler’s mammoth-like frame is a big reason they’ve been able to make the strides they have on that end.
Chandler has also helped on offense, where he’s been one of the most effective screeners in the NBA. Chandler has been injured over the last week or so, but he has plenty of time to heal before the team will need him at full strength to take on Golden State in the postseason.
However, whether or not the Lakers dethrone the Warriors for a shot at the title this season shouldn’t matter. Chandler came back home to where it all started and made his presence felt both on and off the court upon arrival.
Considering he already has a ring, I imagine that means more to Chandler than punching a ticket to the Finals, but hopefully Chandler will get chance to have his cake and eat it too when June rolls around.