Don’t look now, but Tyson Chandler is back with the Dallas Mavericks. Well, not officially – but he’s back.
Well. Sort of.
Since late this past summer, Chandler has been helping coach some of the Mavs’ centers and passing along some of the skills he used to help the Mavs capture the 2011 NBA title. But whether or not Chandler officially gets his name on the Mavs’ payroll is still up in the air.
“No, I don’t have nothing official yet,” Chandler said after Tuesday’s first day of training camp at the BioSteel practice facility. “I always said I’d retire when my kids were at this age. My daughter is in high school out here.
“For me, that’s where my time is right now, but that leaves a lot of time open. So I’m here helping as much as possible. But I can’t commit to anything right now, because I’m kind of figuring it out and enjoying the life right now.”
Mavs coach Jason Kidd said JJ Barea and Chandler are part of the Mavs Legends program that owner Mark Cuban created.
“Tyson is now living here in the Dallas area,” Kidd said. “He wanted to kind of get his feet wet to see what coaching is all about, so we have him on board for our Mavs Legends program. Also, JJ is under that umbrella, too.
“Those are the two that launched this program that Mark created, and we’re very excited to have that, especially to have those two guys that are a big part of the history here. And that’s what Mark does. He takes care of his players – past and present.”
Kidd, Chandler and Barea all played integral roles on the Mavs’ 2011 championship team. And now, Chandler is heavily considering a re-boot.
“For me, I just want to help in any way I can,” Chandler said. “Jason called me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, “Nothing much. Working out.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, come by.’
“So I came by and I’m just trying to lend my knowledge and help any way I can.”
Chandler, who last played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets during the 2019-20 season, let out a sheepish laugh when asked about the rumors of him possibly signing a 10-day contract to play for the Mavs.
“There might be some truth to that,” said Chandler, who will turn 39 on Saturday. “When we were going around (with the Mavs’ staff) and explaining our titles — I don’t really have a title. I was like, ‘I’m just here for a 10-day and I’ll see how that works out.’ ”
Reminded that Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Tom Brady is still very effective at age 44, and plays in a much more physical sport than basketball, Chandler sounded intrigued about playing for the Mavs for the third time.
“I don’t really rule anything out,” he said. “But that’s not mentally where I’m at. But again, I don’t say no to nothing, because I’ve learned my lesson with that.”
And with those lessons learned, Kidd said of Chandler: “Sometimes we tease him that he should be able to look at a 10-day. He’s in great shape.”
Beyond that, Kidd knows fully well of the defensive mentality Chandler provided the Mavs during their championship run. Those intangibles are extremely vital to any team that has championship aspirations.
“I think what Tyson brings is just who he is,” Kidd said. “For people who have been around him, he’s always been a giver, always been willing to help.
“When he was a teammate of mine he was always here to protect. I think that’s who he is. He’s trying to pass on what he’s learned coming out of high school, which was a long, long time ago.”
A seven-foot center, Chandler was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft right out of Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif, and played for the Mavs during the 2010-’11 and ’14-’15 seasons. The 19-year veteran was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, made the All-Star team in 2013, and was selected to the league’s second-team all-defensive teams in 2011 and ’12.
Chandler has been working diligently with Mavs centers Moses Brown, Dwight Powell, Boban Marjanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein, and they all have raved about his imposing presence.
“I like what we have,” Chandler said. “Boban brings so much size, Willie is athletic (with) great movement, Dwight Powell has been in here every single day tightening up his skills. I think he presents something completely different – that kind of hybrid center that’s now in the league.
“And then Mo has come a long way since the first day he walked in here. His length, his size along, and then his gifts that he’s learning that he has to develop, he can bring something completely different. So for me it’s just seeing what every guy has, seeing how I can help, and then also just help them.”
Because of Chandler’s many successful battles in the NBA trenches, the Mavs are totally aware he has a lot to offer their current cast of centers.
“I’m trying to help defensively, trying to help them get more comfortable, really help them in the pick-n-roll get more comfortable,” Chandler said. “All the things that I did throughout my career, all of them can use that, because that’s on the defensive side, (setting screens), helping guards get open.
“(I’m) allowing them to take pieces of my game and then implementing theirs and hopefully it helps out.”
And that, ultimately, is what the Mavs are hoping for.
“When you talk about Tyson and his presence, I think you always start with his voice,” Kidd said. “He’s a great communicator, he’s been here since somewhere in July – August, maybe.
“He started helping out, and he wanted to see if he loved it. We’re lucky to have someone like that who can help our bigs. It was great to hear players mention him yesterday. That’s a sign of Tyson is doing the right thing.”
Whether that “right thing’ eventually lands Chandler a job on the Mavs’ roster, in the team’s developmental department or somewhere else, remains to be seen.
“When Jason first got the job I was ecstatic,” Chandler said. “I couldn’t be more happier because I know what Jason brings to the table and I know what this city and this organization means to him.
“I knew that he would excel at this position. With that, I wanted to be any help that I could be. Whether it ever becomes official or it doesn’t, I want to be as much help as I can be.”
Mavs recruiting Tim Grgurich
Coach Jason Kidd is recruiting player development guru Tim Grgurich to become a full-time member of his staff.
A legendary mentor for coaches, Grgurich was an assistant coach on Rick Carlisle’s staff when the Mavs captured the 2011 NBA title. A title that Kidd was the Mavs’ starting point guard.
“I think when you talk about Grgurich, he’s a father figure,” Kidd said. “He’s created a lot of jobs for NBA coaches when you talk about development. When he first came in the league with Seattle (in 1992) he helped quite a few players on that team, and other teams started to see what he was doing in the summer and other franchises started adding more coaches to development.
“He’s the godfather of coaches. For a young coaching staff and a young head coach, he can help me. I can lean on him. He’s always going to be honest.”
Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki found out first-hand about Grgurich’s honesty.
“He was honest with Dirk about his defense,” Kidd said. “Dirk told him the truth — it’s about offense. So they had a great relationship.
“But that’s what Grgurich is to everybody here with the Mavs family. He’s always going to be part of the Mavs family, because he helped us win the title.”