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Re-acquiring Tyson Chandler gives Mavs defensive stability and chance at monster free agency

Re-acquiring Tyson Chandler gives Mavs chance at monster free agency

Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks
Tyson Chandler averaged 10.1 points and 9.2 rebounds in his one season in Dallas, some of the best numbers of his career. Photo via CBS Sports

The Dallas Mavericks faced many decisions after winning the NBA championship after the 2011 season, the most controversial of which was choosing not to re-sign center Tyson Chandler.

One could say the Mavericks rectified that by trading for Chandler on Wednesday, though owner Mark Cuban made it clear to news outlets that fixing that perceived wrong had nothing to do with it.

"It's apples and oranges," Cuban told ESPNDallas.com. "You couldn't get from there to here."

The Mavs received Chandler and guard Raymond Felton. The price to swing this deal is steep: Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and the Mavs' two second-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft.

 The price to swing this deal is steep: Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and the Mavs' two second-round picks.

So, in essence, this is the Mavs' 2014 draft class, a pair of veterans that can play immediately. At least Cuban and team president Donnie Nelson know what they're getting.

To some, Chandler was the final piece of that magical championship season. Signed to a one-year deal, Chandler was considered an injury-prone center that had never lived up to the hype of being the No. 2 overall selection out of high school in 2001. Most expected Chandler to be a beast. He ended up being something less, but it was just what Dallas needed.

What Chandler brought to that Mavs championship team — and what he should bring to Dallas once again — is rim protection, interior defense and a backbone. This deal was rumored before last season's trade deadline but never happened. With the New York Knicks looking to clear cap space, this deal makes much more sense. Add up all the cap space, and the Mavs are only giving up approximately $3 million in space and still have about $27 million left over.

Mavs fans will applaud the deal, and as long as Chandler, 31, is healthy next season, there are plenty of reasons why. Chandler averaged 10.1 points and 9.2 rebounds in his one season in Dallas, some of the best numbers of his career. His replacements over the past three seasons — Brendan Haywood, Chris Kaman and Dalembert — averaged 7.4 points and 6.0 rebounds combined.

He brings that intimidation factor the Mavs lacked the last three seasons. His rebounding will help everyone — most notably Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, who should get extra shots as Chandler kicks out many of the rebounds he grabs. Opponents won't drive to the basket as often as they did last season, either. Defensively, this team gets better immediately.

In addition, Chandler provides the Mavs with financial flexibility, which is part of the reason the Mavs let him go in the first place. Dallas didn't want to commit long-term money to Chandler at the time so they could pursue big-time free agents, which didn't pan out.

He arrives in Dallas with one year remaining on the four-year, $60 million deal he signed with the Knicks. So Chandler doesn't impede any of the Mavs' long-term goals.

Felton is worth something too. The Mavs will miss Calderon's sharp shot. But between Felton and Monta Ellis, the Mavs have their starting guard tandem. Trading Larkin hurts a little, if you believe he projects as a star one day. I'm not so sure. The Mavs could make a push to re-sign Devin Harris, who had a great half-season after recovering from an injury.

Finally, Chandler's return to Dallas enhances the Mavs' ability to take a shot at one of the big free agents on the market — Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. Yes, I said a shot. Sources are already telling media outlets that the Mavs are on Anthony's short list of suitors and that they believe the Chandler deal makes them relevant in the conversation. The Mavs have the flexibility to do it, even though Nowitzki must be re-signed. And the Mavs will re-sign him.

Is all of that farfetched? Maybe. But Chandler, a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, will improve the Mavs' overall defense. But if he also improves the Mavs' chances of landing a top free agent, then this deal becomes much bigger than anyone realizes.