Tyson Chandler: I don't have animosity with Mavs

DALLAS – Don’t you dare say Tyson Chandler was salty about his summer departure from Dallas, at least not when he’s within earshot.

“I didn’t come with the term salty,” Chandler said Wednesday night while sitting in the visitor’s locker room of the American Airlines Center. “You get that from Mark [Cuban]. Mark said I was salty. I’m not salty, so don’t use that phrase with me.”

OK, well, let’s just say that Chandler has mixed emotions about the Mavs after Cuban treated him like an afterthought in free agency. Again.

Chandler really thought this time was going to be different. He believed it when he heard Cuban publicly declare last fall that he learned from his mistake, acknowledging that letting Chandler leave in 2011 was a poor decision and implying that it wouldn’t happen again in 2015.

Chandler dreamed of a time, years down the road, that he’d walk into the American Airlines Center with Tyson Jr. and see his No. 6 in the rafters. (Coach Rick Carlisle still thinks that should happen, prompting Cuban to crack that the coach thinks every player from the 2011 title team should have his number retired.)

But Chandler didn’t even meet with the Mavs during the free agency process. From the moment it became clear that wooing DeAndre Jordan was Dallas’ top priority – a scenario the best big man in Mavs history said blindsided him – Chandler knew he’d find a new home. It was just a matter of selecting from several suitors.

Chandler chose to sign a four-year, $52 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, informing the Mavs’ brass of his decision moments before their noon meeting with Jordan started on the first day of free agency. Chandler admits that he struggled to separate business from personal at that point.

“The part I was frustrated with is the legacy I wanted to leave here with this city and organization,” Chandler said before Wednesday’s Suns-Mavs preseason game. “At the time, I felt like I was robbed of that. That’s what hurt the most. It took a while to get over that, to be quite honest.”

Cuban doesn’t blame Chandler a bit. It’s not that the Mavs didn’t want Chandler. They just wanted Jordan, who is six years younger and posted better numbers across the board last season, a lot more. And Chandler, whose pride was bruised when he was deemed expendable after being the final piece to a championship puzzle, certainly wasn’t willing to wait and see if Dallas still needed him.

“I think he has the right to be upset,” Cuban said. “I’ve said it before. If I were him, I’d be upset. … There was never any disrespect. Tyson is first class every which way, shape and form. There’s no possible way I could ever say anything negative about him. It just happened the way it happened.”

Without doubt, Chandler was upset. He’s fine with that description. He doesn’t like the way salty sounds. And he certainly isn’t bitter.

“I love this city. I embrace this city. This city was home to me,” Chandler said. “I still love the people here. You can’t have animosity when you won a championship somewhere.

“You can be upset at the way things turned out, but I don’t even have animosity against Cuban, to be honest. He made a decision. Do I agree with the decision? No, I don’t agree with the decision, but it was his decision to make. It’s his team. He owns it. He can make any move he wants to make. You’re not always going to agree, but now I’m with a new organization. It’s time to move on.”