When the Phoenix Suns bought out veteran center Tyson Chandler's contract last month, he quickly signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, giving the team some much-needed experience in the middle. However, there was a point where the 36-year-old big man was considering another NBA team from California — the defending champion Golden State Warriors — as his next destination after spending the last few seasons in Phoenix.
In an interview published Monday on the Los Angeles Lakers' official website, Chandler explained the thought process behind his most recent career move, which he said took place at a point where he believes he only has "a year or so" before retirement. He told writer Kevin Ding that he was seriously considering signing with the Warriors after the Suns bought out the remainder of his contract in November, but opted instead to join the Lakers because he "knew a lot" about their young stars and wanted to serve as a mentor to them.
"Honestly, I was leaning more towards Golden State at the beginning. Just because that's kind of you know what you're getting," Chandler recalled.
"I'm also close with a couple of the guys over there. But when I sat back and thought about my legacy, I'm like, 'What would mean more to me?'"As noted by Ding, Tyson Chandler was familiar with second-year Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma well before he joined the team, as Chandler's younger brother had teamed with him in prep school and Kuzma had long been seeking advice from the 18-year NBA veteran on how to survive in the league. Chandler also shares the same agent as third-year forward Brandon Ingram, and likewise grew up in the Los Angeles area, where, like second-year point guard Lonzo Ball, he was also a highly recruited high school standout. Talking about what could have happened had he joined the Warriors, Chandler said he was "confident" that he would have contributed in some way, regardless of when DeMarcus Cousins recovers from his Achilles injury and is cleared to play his first game for Golden State. However, he again cited his Los Angeles roots as a driving factor for his decision to sign with the Lakers, as he feels it would mean more to him if he helped his hometown team win some games.
"This is where I'm from, and then there was watching Magic [Johnson] while I was younger, and then getting the chance to compete with LeBron [James] and appreciating everything he stands for on and off the court."In the end, it was the advice of a longtime friend and fellow Los Angeles native that truly convinced Chandler to become a Laker. As he recalled, fashion designer Jerry Lorenzo was instrumental in discussing the pros and cons of Chandler's two potential post-Phoenix Suns scenarios, doing so as an unbiased third party who happens to "represent [his] family and friends."
With the Lakers preparing to face the Warriors on Christmas Day, Tyson Chandler will be entering the game with averages of 3.4 points and seven rebounds per game. He is, however, still listed as questionable after missing Sunday's loss against the Memphis Grizzlies due to back spasms, per CBS Sports.