Meanwhile, Ryan McDonough’s phone was buzzing constantly, as tends to happen when you are the general manager of a team embroiled in multiple and intertwined controversies. One notification alarmed him: a voicemail from Jeff Schwartz, the New York-based power agent who represents Tyson Chandler. “Given the way our season had started,” McDonough says, “it wouldn’t have been shocking if Tyson wanted to be moved.” Schwartz delivered the opposite message, the two recall: “Tyson is fine.” He likes Phoenix, Schwartz told McDonough, and enjoys mentoring the young Suns. “It was a breath of fresh air,” McDonough says.
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Tyson Chandler could easily look around at his predicament, recognize the Phoenix Suns aren’t going to be really good until after his current contract expires, decide that the two sides are on two different clocks and ask out. And who would blame him? After all, he’s 35 and didn’t join the Suns expecting to be the bearded sage of some rebuilding project, with a roster full of players who had barely advanced to pull-up diapers when he was selected second overall in 2001. But if you’re expecting Chandler to quit on his situation, to send out some cryptic messages on social media, or force his exit with a quiet trade request, you’d be mistaken. Chandler believes he’s playing for something more important than another chance to collect a ring or two before he eventually leaves the game.
“My legacy,” Tyson Chandler told The Vertical. “Having to live with myself after this. I don’t want to walk away and be like, ‘Damn, I wish I would’ve gone a little harder,’ even though things weren’t right. Because you’re only going to remember the end. I’ll be able to remember the good times, but the end is what’s going to stick out in my mind. I want to be able to say, regardless of what happened, I came to work every day. One day, I’m going to have to talk to my son and tell him, ‘This is what I did. You can do it. Got to move forward.’ I wouldn’t be able to look at myself if I didn’t.”
But, at 35 and in the final stages of his career, Chandler takes a matter-of-fact approach. And that includes not letting the rumors affect the way he goes about his job. “At the end of the day I’m a professional and this is my team,” Chandler said. “So until anything changes, I’m going to give them everything I’ve got every single day. “Just like everybody else, I hear the rumblings. I hear my name being involved in things and trade rumors but I’m at the point where I couldn’t care less,” he said. “I go out there and do my job until the time somebody tells me different. Then I’ll have to address it.”
The Suns will surely listen if and when suitors call for Eric Bledsoe. They’ve explored the possibility of moving off Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler, sources say, though they likely feel no urgency to dump them; Phoenix remains just under the salary floor.
Michael Gallagher: Woj on ESPN: Suns still looking to deal Tyson Chandler or Brandon Knight.
Sources say the Clippers, in an exploratory fashion, have spoken to a few teams regarding the nine-year veteran. One of the teams contacted was the Phoenix Suns, sources relayed to ESPN. A proposal of Jordan in exchange for veteran center Tyson Chandler and the team’s No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA draft was discussed, sources said. The Suns, however, are believed to have balked at the overture.
Exactly what was discussed that day is not known, but it came down to this: McDonough and team owner Robert Sarver asked Chandler his preference: go to a postseason contender or stay with the rebuilding Suns in a limited on-court role. In his 16th season, Chandler chose to stay. “That’s true,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “I feel like it’s a journey I started that I want to see through. If things change, I don’t know, but as long as I’m here, I’m going to try and do what’s right by these young fellas. I didn’t want to go nowhere. I wanted to be with these dudes and finish it out.”
In the days leading to the trade deadline, Chandler appreciated management’s honestly. He said Sarver and McDonough were straightforward, telling him: Here’s our plan. Here’s our direction. Do you want to be a part of it? “For me, I sit down and evaluate where I’m at in my career, where I want to go, what I want to accomplish,” Chandler said. “At that time, in my heart I felt like I was needed for the young players. In life, it becomes about the bigger picture and not just you as the individual. That’s what I felt in my heart.”
“There’s no analytics for voice,” Watson said. “A lot of times with young players it takes time because you’re really trying to figure it all out yourself and as you start to get older you realize you could’ve been talking early in your career because the truth is, no one has all the answers.”
As a result, Suns coach Earl Watson was asked when or if he planned to return center Tyson Chandler and guard Brandon Knight to the rotation. Both players haven’t played since the All-Star break, a stretch of six contests, including Sunday. “I’m not changing it unless management changes it,” Watson said. “I have a boss and my boss has a boss, so whatever comes from up top is what’s going to happen. And right now, that’s not even part of our equation.”
Watson’s comments made it sound as if management solely made the post-All-Star break decision. Pressed on the issue, however, he said that wasn’t the case. “I didn’t say that,” he said. “I said if things change, it will be from management.” Watson continued: “You know what? It’s a great opportunity. Basketball is like life. Things can change at any moment. You have to be ready to adjust. The moment you do not adjust, you lose. We knew as a staff we had to build an immediate mindset in those younger players, preferably Tyler and Jones.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Phoenix Suns have veteran players in PJ Tucker, in Tyson Chandler and in Brandon Knight, who they have been shopping around the league, trying to find a way to get them off to bring in more picks or another young player.
Watson told azcentral sports that Chandler’s future isn’t up to him, but he made it clear he wants the big man to stay in Phoenix. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23. “I have very little input, but if it was up to me, I love Tyson Chandler,’’ Watson said. “I think our front office loves Tyson Chandler. Tyson wants to be a part of this process. He doesn’t mind the work and building. Where most veteran players want to win now, they don’t want to put in the work (with a young team). Tyson’s all about putting in the work every day. He practices every day. He’s vocal every day. He’s present every day. He’s positive or challenging. He has the same voice every day, and that is invaluable. That’s not analytical.”
Tucker and out-of-favor guard Brandon Knight are widely regarded as the most “gettable” Suns. Coach Earl Watson announced this week that veteran center Tyson Chandler is “not going anywhere.”
Spencer Davis: An adamant Earl Watson to @16WinsARing just now: “Tyson [Chandler]’s not going anywhere.” #Suns
Word is Portland, of late, has been tracking Tyson Chandler as a potential trade target, since the Phoenix center could certainly help the Blazers with their defensive issues.
Given trade opportunities to move, Suns center Tyson Chandler met with Suns coach Earl Watson in the offseason and made a decision to stay because the franchise felt like family. Chandler had no idea how much of a family decision it would prove to be.
Gerald Bourguet: Earl Watson also said Tyson Chandler had opportunities for trade over the summer but didn’t want one. Full quote coming in a bit. #Suns
Watson also revealed just how close Chandler is to his team by noting that Chandler turned down opportunities to be traded this summer, which followed his 15th season — a 23-59 Suns campaign. Watson said he traveled to Santa Monica, Calif., because Chandler wanted to talk but not about basketball. “He just wanted to know that what was changing was for the better and it involved a lot of love, compassion and a vision,” Watson said of a talk that went late into the night. “When we got done with the meeting, his words were clear and simple. He was like, ‘Man, I love you. I love the vision. I love the young guys. I don’t want to go anywhere.’ And he’s come out and he’s damn sure played like he doesn’t want to be anywhere (else).”
Chandler said he has no plans to seek a trade and remains committed to sitting tight while Phoenix’s offseason plays out. “I’m happy where I am,” he said Thursday. “I feel like the Suns have a bright future if we continue to build and build the right way. It’s all about building the right way.”
There are big questions about what will fall at the top of the team’s priority list this offseason, but Chandler has decided to take a wait-and-see approach. “Me and management have a great relationship and we communicate,” he said on ESPN’s The Jump with Rachel Nichols Monday. “If there is a decision and they want to go young and stay young, then we’ll have that conversation. But we’re not there.”
Gerald Bourguet: When asked about the possibility of summer trades for the #Suns, Tyson Chandler has this to say: “I don’t know. Anytime you have a season the way we did, just being realistic and honest, it, always shaken up in the offseason, somehow, some way. You know almost for certain that we’re not going to come back with the same roster that we finished the season with. So we’ll see. I don’t know what their plans are, but like I say, I know that management will put us in the best position to succeed.”
The demand for Tyson Chandler is low. Even with a rising cap this summer, Chandler, who is still owed $39 million over the next three years, is not a desirable option for many teams. Factor in a strong free-agent center class, and Chandler’s poor play has many teams wary of acquiring that contract.
Tyson Chandler made it clear before Sunday’s game that, while this season has not gone like he envisioned in Phoenix, he is in it for the long haul with the Suns. “I’m not jumping ship,” Chandler said. “If the organization decides to move me or something like that, then clearly, that’s something that’s out of my control. But I came here for a reason. I thought it was a young, promising team and I wanted to be a part of helping turn this around and help go to the next level. And I feel like I’m capable of doing that and this organization is capable of doing it.
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November 22, 2017 | 3:00 pm EST Update
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