Storyline: Tyson Chandler Trade?

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Question Will the Suns make a deal before Thursday’s trading deadline? Scott Bordow: If Phoenix does make a deal, it likely will be a minor one. The Suns wouldn’t mind shedding Tyson Chandler’s $13.5 million contract next season but trading him is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, the market is limited for a 35-year-old center who isn’t a game-changer. Second, Phoenix doesn’t want salary in return unless it’s attached to a young, established player, and how many of those are lying around and could be had for Chandler? The most likely candidate to be dealt is backup shooting guard Troy Daniels, who will make just $3.2 million in 2018-19. Dealing Daniels would enable Phoenix to get a good look at rookie Davon Reed over the final 25 games of the season. But it’s unlikely the Suns could get anything more than a second-round pick for Daniels. The same goes for Alex Len, who will be an unrestricted free agent. It’s hard to imagine teams wanting to part with a first-round pick for Len, who started strongly this season but has been wildly inconsistent the past month.

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6 months ago via ESPN

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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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