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Sun’s Watson: “Tyson’s not going anywhere.”

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Suns head coach Earl Watson emphatically quenched trade rumors around Tyson Chandler to @16WinsaRing on Thursday in Cleveland.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Forgive Suns coach Earl Watson if he has no time for fake trade scenarios and rumors of his favorite players.

His Suns might be a paltry 13-29 on the season, third worst in the entire league, but Watson gives no credence to the thought of Tyson Chandler being traded to a contender.

As the Suns approach February’s trade deadline, rumors are flying this way and that about their veteran players being moved to playoff-caliber teams who need their services.

All of Chandler, P.J. Tucker, Brandon Knight, and even summer-signings Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley, will be discussed between the Suns and every other NBA in the next four weeks. Many pundits believe that these vets “deserve” to play for a contender while the Suns might not see the playoffs again before they retire from the game.

But if Watson has anything to say about it, Tyson Chandler won’t be traded and the two will ride out the Suns’ rebuild together.

The 34-year old Tyson Chandler has a long and successful NBA resume before joining the Phoenix Suns in July 2015:

  • starting center for a playoff team in 9 of previous 11 seasons (2005-2015)
  • NBA Champion (2011)
  • Olympic Gold Medalist (2012)
  • All-Star (2013)

But since joining the Suns, Chandler has shared playing time with Alex Len and hasn’t come close to sniffing the playoffs.

Yet, he’s fully committed to the Suns and - based on appearances - fully committed to Earl Watson as his coach.

When the Suns signed Tyson Chandler in July of 2015, it was Earl Watson who surprised Chandler with his unexpected presence among the Suns contingent (having just been hired to the Suns staff days before) and helped convince the big man to sign on with a team that believed it was on the verge of something big.

The Suns thought they were thisclose to perennial playoff contention, having just missed in 2013-14 and being in playoff position as late as the trade deadline the just-ended 2014-15 season. Chandler was supposed to help calm the waters and solidify the Suns defense enough to support a dangerous offense on the road to the postseason.

But of course, we know how it went.

“It’s been a year,” Chandler said with a smirk after the last home game of the 2015-16 season.

Chandler went through a down period during the season as it unraveled, but by the end he loved his new head coach’s approach and was ready for whatever came next.

Over the summer, the Suns gave Chandler a chance to get traded to a playoff-level team, but he declined the opportunity. And to the Suns credit, they honored that wish.

He demonstrated his commitment when he came back early for voluntary workouts before training camp, openly talking about the rebuild with positivity and confidence.

And when his mom unexpectedly passed away just after the season started, the Suns told him to take all the time he needed before rejoining the team. Chandler expressed great appreciation for the Suns’ handling of the situation.

Now, amid all the distractions, Chandler is having one of the best seasons of his career at age 34.

One of the best big men in NBA

  • 8.6 defensive rebounds per game highest of 16-year career, 7th overall in the NBA
  • 12.2 total rebounds per game the second-highest of his 16-year career (12.4, in 2007), and 6th overall in the NBA
  • 66.9 FG% is also the second highest of his career (68.3% in 2012), and 2nd in the NBA among players who have taken more than 2 shots per game this season
  • franchise record 6 straight 15+ rebound games
  • most 20+ rebound games in franchise history

Tyson Chandler is still one of the best big men in the game. His current streak of six straight 15+ rebound games is the longest such streak of any NBA player in the last two years.

For the Suns, he’s a steadying influence while he's on the court (playing just over half of each game). Chandler boasts the best offensive rating (125 points per 100 possessions) and second-best defensive rating (108 points allowed per 100 possessions) on the team in his 28 minutes per night.

One of best ever, for his age (at 34 years old)

Let’s put Chandler’s renaissance season into historical context. We are talking about a 34-year old, 16-year NBA veteran. That’s a LOT of miles on any athlete, let alone an NBA basketball player.

Chandler’s 12.2 rebounds per game are the 7th most EVER by an NBA player aged 34 years or older. The others are Wilt Chamberlain (3 times), Bill Russell, Dikembe Mutombo and Robert Parrish. The last time a player 34 or older with 12+ rebounds per game was Mutombo in 2000-01. Marcus Camby was close, with 11.1 and 11.8 from 2008-10.

The last time a 34+ year old had three or more 20+ rebound games in a season was Marcus Camby in 2012 (3 such games at 37 years old). Camby was a late-career rebound machine, posting multiple 20+ rebound games each year from age 34-37 before his retirement.

Mutombo is the last player age 34 or older to post at least six straight 15+ rebound games like the streak Chandler is currently on. Mutombo had 7 straight in 2000-01 and 8 straight in 1999-00.

*All statistics in this article come from the great basketball-reference.com

Not going anywhere?

While he might appear that Chandler on the Suns is like a square peg in a round hole - as a 34-year old playoff veteran on a rebuilding team with no playoffs in sight - he doesn’t appear to have any desire to move on and the Suns don’t want him to go.

With 23-year old Alex Len set for restricted free agency this summer and a big payday (likely $16+ million per year, at the least), maybe we should start considering Tyson Chandler as a lock to remain on the team for the last two years of his deal.

And maybe we should be ecstatic about it. Frankly, having one of the league’s best rebounders on the roster for a mere $13-14 per year in this era of mega-salaries is a steal.