Tyson Chandler: “I Really Think I’m Going To Be On A New Team”

Tyson Chandler had a pretty good season with the Dallas Mavericks.  Beyond his numbers (above his career averages in most major categories), he had an intangible impact on the Mavs that caused Rick Carlisle to say

“I don’t need to overstate his importance. We’ll do everything possible to [re-sign him]. Tyson Chandler changed our season on a lot of levels. It wasn’t just his play, it was his enthusiasm, his energy.

“He just brought a certain exuberance to our locker room, and he got other guys on board with keeping each other accountable.”

But finances are finances.  And the Mavs finances have them paying out $63 million dollars next season without Chandler in the mix.  And without Chandler, the Mavs will be under the cap next year when Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and probably Rudy Fernandez are off the books.  So while many assumed Chandler would be back in Dallas, it might not be a total shock to hear talks between Chandler and the Mavs aren’t going so well. 

“I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “I’m really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me.”

Chandler’s doubts about the Mavericks’ willingness to re-sign him to a lucrative long-term deal will be welcome news for organizations throughout the league. Chandler and Denver center Nene rank as the two most coveted unrestricted free agents in the 2011 class, but the overwhelming sentiment in many front offices has been that Chandler’s return to Dallas was essentially a done deal after the 7-footer’s role in helping the Mavericks win their first championship.

Chandler’s 29 years old, so he’s looking at this as potentially his last big contract.  Even a four-year deal makes him a free agent at 33, and how good he is from there on out is a crap shoot.  But if Dallas doesn’t want him, then there are plenty of teams that do.  Even capped out teams like the Boston Celtics will try like hell to find a way to make Chandler fit into their plans.

Dallas may bite the bullet on this and let Chandler walk in an effort to pursue a younger star next season.  But they risk allowing the final piece to some team’s puzzle to take the shape of Chandler if they choose to let him walk.  The phone lines will be ringing in Dallas with teams always on the lookout for a defensive presence in the middle that can also finish around the rim.  It’ll be Chandler’s 5th team as he enters his 11th year in the league.  I’m sure he hopes it will be his last.