Tyson Chandler will be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this afternoon. Remember him? You may have a faint recollection of the man who became the defensive anchor for the Dallas Mavericks last season as they won their first ever championship.
Much has happened in Mavs Land since that title was on and alas, Tyson Chandler eventually went on to free agency and fell to the New York Knicks. The Knicks are the team for which Chandler is winning the award for today, not the Mavericks. That’s an obvious fact, but also a painful reality for many who wanted Chandler to be a Maverick for life.
Chandler receiving the award today has thrown gasoline on the fiery debate of whether or not the Mavs should have brought the center back with a ‘do what it takes’ attitude, but it’s important to understand the reasoning and line of thinking the Mavericks used when making that decision.
With the Mavericks down 0-2 right now in the First Round of the playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder, panic clouds over the future of the franchise are settling over Dallas. Hindsight cries about how the Mavs should have re-signed the center are a half-panic, half-uninformed opinion. Taking the broad approach of looking beyond the current playoffs situation, the Mavericks made the decision to let Tyson Chandler walk away for reasons beyond today, tomorrow, and even a few years down the road.
If the Mavericks had signed Chandler to the four-year and $58 million contract that the Knicks offered him, the future of the franchise would have been locked-in without any room to maneuver, while also placing the Mavs into deep luxury tax territory. The new agreed upon CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) places a much harsher penalty on teams who pay luxury tax, so the Mavericks would have been committed to an aging, offensively limited player who handcuffed moves in the future and they would have been paying ungodly amounts of money in order to do it.
The Mavericks know what Tyson Chandler is capable of as a player and they never for a minute believed he wasn’t capable of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, but they simply didn’t believe an investment of around $14 million a year for an older, injury-prone center was worth it.
Sure, Chandler could eventually prove that the Mavericks made the wrong decision, but that can only be done over time. What Chandler did this year or any awards he receives today are irrelevant as the Mavs’ front office always believed he was capable of this, just not long term. Before rushing to a judgment that is formed in an instant, monitor the next few years and watch what the Mavericks do with their additional financial flexibility, the kind of success they have, how productive Tyson Chandler is as he ages into his current contract, and how the Knicks fare with his albatross of a contract.
Only then can the decision of the Mavericks be fairly ruled upon.