Chandler: Dallas not hard to sell

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Friday, June 27, 2014

DALLAS -- Center Tyson Chandler is "thrilled" to be back on the Dallas Mavericks, and he intends to assist the team's attempt to recruit former New York Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony in free agency.

"Absolutely, I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team and the organization," Chandler said on a conference call with Dallas reporters a day after he was the centerpiece of a six-player trade. "At the end of the day, free agency is kind of an individual thing. And I know that I was once there and it comes down your family and what's best for you career-wise.

"But I'll tell you one thing: Dallas isn't a bad place to be. It's a great opportunity, and clearly we've done it in the past. It's not a hard place to sell. I'm going to do whatever it takes."

This will be Chandler's second stint with the Mavericks, a team he didn't want to leave after playing a critical role in Dallas' 2011 title run.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban, citing the more restrictive collective bargaining agreement after the 2011 lockout, opted to offer Chandler only a one-year deal. Chandler, who said he was saddened by Cuban's business decision but ultimately grew to understand it, chose to sign a four-year, $60 million deal with the Knicks that will expire next summer.

At the time, Cuban prioritized financial flexibility over keeping the aging championship roster intact with the hopes of landing a superstar such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in free agency. The Mavs struck out on those stars but are focused on "big fish" -- to borrow Dallas president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson's term for elite players -- again this summer with LeBron James and Anthony topping their shopping list in free agency.

A team source told that acquiring Chandler, the emotional leader of their title team and the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, made the Mavs "real players" in the recruiting battles for James or Anthony. Dallas has about $26 million in cap space, although some of that will go to Dirk Nowitzki, who has committed to signing a to-be-negotiated hometown discount deal.

Anthony is expected to visit the Mavs, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets once free agency begins July 1, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard. It is unclear whether the Mavs will be granted a face-to-face meeting with James.

Chandler played with James and Anthony on Team USA and got to know Anthony especially well while playing with him in New York the past three seasons.

"He's a great dude," Chandler said. "He wants to win and he wants to be in a system and he wants to be in a culture. I think that's going to go into a big part of his decision-making. His talent is unquestionable."

Chandler said he has a good relationship with Anthony, but he knows Anthony's decision about his free-agency destination will be made in consultation with his family, first and foremost. Chandler said he will respect Anthony's privacy and probably won't contact him before his visit to Dallas, but he will eagerly answer any questions Anthony has about the Mavs.

"As far as me recruiting him and telling him this, this and that, he already knows," Chandler said. "He already knows what's coming, but if he has questions for me about the organization or any of the players that I played with that are there now, I'm more than willing to answer."

The Mavs intend to attempt to convince James or Anthony to join a frontcourt featuring Nowitzki and Chandler that they believe would be the league's best with the addition of a superstar small forward, a source said. The Mavs also will pitch a big-picture plan of chasing another star free agent, such as Kevin Love, Marc Gasol or Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge, with the cap space they expect to have next summer.

Chandler, who won a title during his lone season in Dallas, said the franchise's winning mentality and coach Rick Carlisle's structure and expertise are the Mavs' best selling points.

"That culture is here in Dallas and it's self-explanatory," Chandler said. "If he's serious about winning, then he'll take on a winning organization and give them a good look."

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