DALLAS — He was unquestionably the defensive spark plug that ignited the Dallas Mavericks to their first-ever NBA title at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Now, after reacquiring the heart and soul of that title team this summer, the Mavericks hope that the return of Tyson Chandler leads to another championship chase.
Reclaiming Chandler in a six-player trade with the New York Knicks back on June 25 that also brought along point guard Raymond Felton, the Mavs quickly addressed one of their offseason priorities by upgrading at the center position. And perhaps more importantly, the Mavs added an infectious personality to their locker room while bringing back a fan favorite.
“You know, the guy is such an injection of enthusiasm and energy and such a good player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said shortly after the reacquisition of Chandler was made official. “You know, there’s been few players that I’ve seen in 30 years in this league that have become so respected and so beloved in a market the way that Tyson has here in just his one year. I’ve gotten tons of text messages from people just so excited to see him back.”
Highly regarded as the best center in franchise history, the 7-foot-1 Chandler averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds during that magical ’10-11 season. In just one season, Chandler is also credited with changing the culture in Dallas while garnering All-Defensive Second Team honors.
Chandler would continue to display his defensive prowess by claiming the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award while with the Knicks, making his first All-Star team the following season and earning a spot on the All-Defensive First Team in the process. But, while lining up next to 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki during the ’10-11 campaign, Chandler showcased an underrated offensive game en route to setting a franchise record by connecting on 65.4 percent of his shots from the field.
“It gives us a shot blocker, rebounder and someone that’s certainly familiar with the system,” Mavs president of basketball operations and GM Donnie Nelson said of Chandler’s addition. “He’s a great guy in the locker room, a running mate with Dirk, a franchise center and it gives us one of the better front lines in the league. And we’re just so happy to have him back. … We’re just fortunate and blessed to have him back.”
Plagued by nagging injuries last season with the Knicks, Chandler played in just 55 games and averaged 8.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Still, with his health no longer believed to be a concern, all of Chandler’s attributes should instantly help the Mavs as the team hopes to once again hoist the Larry O’Brien championship trophy at season’s end.
“I think it just sets up well for our team,” Carlisle explained. “He complements Dirk extremely well. He’s a great runner, screener and rim protector, and he has that exuberant enthusiasm that’s infectious and it just rubs off on everybody.
“We won a championship and he was a decisive ingredient to that. And had we not, he still would have been very well thought of. There’s no doubt about that. But he was the one that kind of finished off the making of that roster and that team, and so now our goal is to see that [another title run] happens again this coming year.”