Regardless of what happens in the postseason, the Dallas Mavericks shouldn’t let Tyson Chandler slip away through their fingers in free agency for a second time.
After the Mavericks won the 2011 NBA title, Mark Cuban didn’t want to pay up to Chandler, which resulted in the center leaving to the New York Knicks. The Mavericks, meanwhile, suffered from a severe decline, which includes two first round exits in the NBA playoffs and one year (2013) of missing out, although it had a lot to do with Dirk Nowitzki’s injury that kept him out from the beginning of the season.
Chandler got reunited with Nowitzki, Rick Carlisle and Cuban this season after a trade with the New York Knicks which hasn’t worked out all that well for the Mavericks. Not because of Chandler, who is still the team’s defensive anchor (although declining), averaging 10 points, 11.4 rebounds and some impressive advanced states considering he’s covering a lot of holes on a team filled with shooters.
Cuban himself has said more than once he regrets not re-signing Chandler, who is making $14.8 million this season, and getting him back almost four years later as he tries to build a championship team once again. While Chandler might not be the player he was back in 2011, quality big men are hard to find, and Chandler is still one of the best defensive centers in the league.
It’ll probably come down to money and the offers from around the league, but the salary cap is rising and $10-15 million a season doesn’t mean what it used to anymore. Chandler will be 32 when he hits free agency, one of eight players the Mavericks need to consider re-signing or not. Rajon Rondo is probably their first priority, but Chandler is probably more important to the immediate future of the franchise, and should be the first player they sit down with.