Reacquiring Tyson Chandler figures to strengthen Mavs’ defense

DALLAS — It figures to be a relatively quiet NBA Draft for the Dallas Mavericks come Thursday night.

That’s because the Mavericks made plenty of waves on the eve of the draft by acquiring center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton in a multi-player trade with the New York Knicks.

Wednesday, the Mavs announced the acquisitions of Chandler and Felton in exchange for center Samuel Dalembert and guards Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington. The Mavs also sent the Knicks a pair of second-round picks in this year’s draft, surrendering the 34th and 51st overall selections and leaving the team without a pick entering Thursday’s festivities.

Felton, the fifth overall selection in the 2005 draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, is expected to help stabilize the backcourt, which now has a gaping hole with the departure of Calderon and the pending free agency of veteran guard Devin Harris. The former North Carolina standout and 6-foot-1 lead guard holds career averages of 13.1 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 667 career games (611 starts), spending time with Charlotte, Denver, Portland and New York. The Mavs now hope Felton, 30, can rekindle the stellar play he displayed during the ’10-11 season, when he put up career numbers across the board by averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals an outing.

But, by reacquiring Chandler, the Mavericks’ front office may have already accomplished one of their offseason goals of strengthening the Dallas defense.

At age 31, Chandler enters the last season of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in free agency after winning the title with the Mavs back in 2011. He’s also expected to return to form while coming off a season riddled by nagging injuries, playing in 55 games during the ’13-14 campaign and averaging 8.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

The 7-foot-1, 240-pound Chandler was the heart and soul of the Mavs’ defense when they captured their first championship in franchise history, averaging 10.1 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds that season while garnering All-Defensive Second Team honors. He also set a franchise record by connecting on 65.4 percent from the field on the offensive side of the ball.

The gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games for Team USA holds career averages of 8.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 845 games (648 starts) during stints with Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas and New York. Chandler, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, was also an All-Star the following season, earning a spot on the All-Defensive First Team in the process. 

Chandler is now expected to anchor a defense that finished ranked 20th in the league while allowing 102.4 points a game and 22nd with a 108.7 defensive rating.