Saturday’s news of Tyson Chandler and the Suns working toward a buyout, which was completed Sunday morning as he heads to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, wasn’t surprising, but the timing was head-scratching to say the least.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, this agreement with Chandler has been in place for some time now, which raises major questions about why the Suns obliged a distressed asset’s demands? If this buyout was in the final stages during the offseason, why not pull the trigger then and let Chandler have his pick of teams with front court needs?
Well, the Suns allowing Chandler to stay on the roster three weeks into the regular season could have some long-term ramifications, depending on how player development crystalizes for their young core. The one player directly impacted by Chandler’s stay for only eight games was De’Anthony Melton.
The No. 46 pick in this year’s draft has a moldable skill set that complements Devin Booker (I had him ranked No. 13 on my big board, one spot ahead of Collin Sexton), but he’s only under team control through the 2019-20 season. However, Melton could have signed a four-year contract like Elie Okobo if Phoenix had decided to move on from Chandler before training camp.
As NBA capologist Albert Nahmad noted, Melton would have been under the Suns’ control through 2022, but that’s a moot point now.
After acquiring him from Rockets on 8/31, Suns took as long as they could to sign De'Anthony Melton (until 9/21, just before training camp started), perhaps waiting on a Tyson Chandler buyout, which would’ve enabled them to sign Melton to a 3-4 year deal. Instead, it's two years.— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) November 3, 2018
Not only would Melton have a four-year deal instead, but Davon Reed would possibly still be in Phoenix as well. Waiving Chandler’s salary before the season would have opened up enough room to still sign Jamal Crawford outright without making any other roster-trimming outside of Shaquille Harrison.
This could easily hamper Phoenix down the line if Melton breaks out, or if Reed turns into a solid rotation piece with the Pacers. Two recent second-round acquisitions by the Suns were hamstrung by the front office not being decisive enough, and allowed Chandler to decide when he wanted to leave.
When Jared Dudley was dealt to Brooklyn in July, Chandler was the next logical choice to be let go. Only four months later did it finally happen.
By the way, the Suns’ third-string center could have been Alan Williams on a two-way contract if Chandler was let go earlier as well. Williams made his debut for the Long Island Nets last night on his way to 27 points and 21 rebounds.
One current Sun and two former members of the rotation were directly affected by the curious decision the front office made in keeping Chandler around, just to buy him out to join a contender less than 10 percent of the way into the season.