DALLAS—For Tyson Chandler, a famous saying of the late, great Yogi Berra, the one about it being déjà vu all over again, rang true this summer.
Chandler, a key contributor on the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team was not offered the chance to remain in Dallas and help the Mavs defend their title, so he signed a four-year deal with New York.
The affable big man played three full seasons with the Knicks before being traded back to Dallas in June 2014 and with Chandler’s contract expiring after last season, many thought the Mavs would re-up him and he’d remain in Big D for the foreseeable future.
Again, that’s now how it played out. Dallas went all-in on DeAndre Jordan, who remained with the Los Angeles Clippers and Chandler signed a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns.
“I thought in my exit meeting I was coming back to be quite honest,” Chandler said earlier this week while in town for a preseason game. “When I left from the parking lot, I thought we’ll be back, this time we’ll settle in, but it didn’t work out that way.”
Still only 33 and with 13 years of experience in the Association, Chandler is now the Suns’ elder statesman. Not only is he the oldest and most experienced member of the roster, but he’s also the only Sun with a ring, something which Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek feels gives the ex-Mav instant credibility.
“He’s done a great job with our young guys and they all respect him and understand that he knows what it takes and that when he says something, players tend to notice him,” Hornacek said.
Phoenix’s young roster, one featuring Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Markieff Morris, is definitely not short on talent. But they are lacking in experience as 11 of the Suns’ 15 players on the roster as of Wednesday had five or fewer years in the league. That’s why youngsters like Baylor product Cory Jefferson, who is battling for one of those final roster spots, is learning all he can from Chandler.
“Yeah, he’s definitely been a great influence on and off the court,” Jefferson said. “In practice, no matter what we’re doing, if he sees something, he’ll let you know. He’ll kind of let coach know that he’s about to address something that he sees. We’ll stop practice for a second and he’ll tell us things that’ll help us as a team to be better. [He’s] just giving us his knowledge.”
One thing he’s already shown his teammates is that more than anything, the NBA is a business and sometimes you have to move on like he did when the Mavs didn’t offer him a new contract.
“It’s not about them [the Mavs]. It’s about me and my future. I’m here with a new, young team, exciting team that I’m looking forward to building with,” Chandler said. “I have no ill will against them at all. I won’t allow that in my heart.”