Nelson: Chandler fits better than Jefferson

The spin coming from the Mavs’ front office is that Tyson Chandler’s defensive versatility is a better fit on this team than Al Jefferson’s post-up dominance.

Donnie Nelson said the Mavs made a conscious decision Monday night to drop out of the Jefferson bidding and focus on getting the Chandler deal done with the Bobcats. Financial flexibility and the fact that they could hang on to their future first-round picks heavily influenced the Mavs’ thinking, but Nelson is pumping up Chandler as an impact player.

In fact, he went so far as to proclaim that the addition of Chandler gives the Mavs a much better chance to challenge the Lakers, noting that Chandler has the size and athleticism to defend on the block, play the pick-and-roll or bother face-up big men.

“When we do something, all of our sights are set on Los Angeles,” Nelson said. “We’ve got somebody we can throw at [Pau] Gasol now.”

Frankly, it’s quite a leap for a team coming off a first-round playoff exit to focus on matching up with the world champions. And it really seems like a stretch to believe that a center whose best attribute at this point is probably the fact that he’s arriving in Dallas with a contract that expires next summer will make much of a difference.

However, when healthy, Chandler is a unique athlete as a 7-foot-1 pogo stick with excellent quickness. He’s never been a great shot blocker – Erick Dampier averages more per game – but Chandler theoretically solves some matchup problems for the Mavs.

So … how about his health? He missed a total of 68 games during the last two seasons, primarily due to foot and ankle injuries that required surgeries last offseason.

Nelson acknowledges that was a major concern for the Mavs, but he expressed confidence that the 27-year-old Chandler had regained the explosiveness that made him an impact player for the Hornets. Nelson said “spies” raved about Chandler after watching recent workouts in Los Angeles.

“He has never felt better,” Nelson said. “He is healthy. He hasn’t felt healthy for two years. He hasn’t been able to explode off one leg or two legs like he is now.”

Anybody hopping on the bandwagon of a team pinning its hopes for knocking off the Lakers on the addition of a backup big man who hobbled around the last two seasons?