The trade that more or less swapped aging center Erick Dampier for oft-injured center Tyson Chandler didn't exactly set off fireworks around town, even though the Dallas Mavericks spun the deal as a defensive upgrade in the case the Mavs meet the front-court rich Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs.
Since Chandler joined the Mavs and then started workouts with Team USA in Las Vegas in late July, reviews of the 7-foot-1 center have been mixed. Initially, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Chandler needed to get in basketball shape. Mavs owner Mark Cuban quickly responded with positive feedback from other observers in Vegas, including Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith, a member of the Team USA medical staff.
As the lone true center on the roster, Chandler figured to nail down the starting job, but he has come off the bench in all five of Team USA's games during the ongoing FIBA World Championships, and he hasn't played more than 15 minutes in any single game and twice played fewer than 10 minutes.
ESPN.com Insider contributer Tom Haberstroh questions Chandler's productivity and suggets that at Chandler's current pace, the Mavs might regret taking a chance on him.
Here's Haberstroh's take:
3. What happened to Tyson Chandler's defense?
Here are Chandler's numbers after nine games and 94 minutes of FIBA action this summer: 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 28 rebounds and nine blocks. Oh, and 21 personal fouls.
In fact, Thursday's four-point, two-foul performance against Tunisia finally gave Chandler more points than fouls this summer in FIBA competition. Do the math and Chandler's FIBA foul rate has sky-rocketed to 8.9 personal fouls per 40 minutes, which nearly doubles the already steep 4.7 fouls per 40 minute rate he committed last season for the Charlotte Bobcats.
It wasn't long ago that Chandler was considered a top post defender in the NBA, but that was before ankle injuries over the past two seasons sidelined him and sapped his effectiveness down low.
After taming his foul-happy ways in New Orleans, it's a bit unnerving to see international big men give him so much trouble, especially coming off a disappointing season in Charlotte. It's not uncommon to see big men overcompensate for their gimpy feet by being overly aggressive with their hands, but Chandler needs to be more conservative with the fouling if he wants to come close to regaining the starting role he enjoyed at the outset.
At the rate Chandler is going, the Dallas Mavericks could soon wish they had reacquired Bobcat and notorious hacker DeSagana Diop in the offseason instead.
I wouldn't go so far as to suggest the Mavs might be better off with the happy-go-lucky Diop, who owns career marks of about two points and three rebounds. If Chandler doesn't pan out, the Mavs still could come out winners. First, Brendan Haywood is signed long-term to man the middle, plus the Mavs have two developmental centers on the roster. More important, Chandler is entering the final year of his deal worth $12.6 million, a very attractive expiring contract when the NBA trade deadline rolls around in February.
The Mavs will get their first up-close look at Chandler after the World Championships when he begins workouts prior to the start of training camp on Sept. 28.