The Los Angeles Lakers signing a 36-year-old Tyson Chandler in the middle of November may not seem like a huge deal, but through three games, having Chandler as a backup to JaVale McGee has been nothing short of instrumental.
Chandler has provided defensive stability to a bench rotation that had been deeply struggling. His play has been excellent, but he says he knows his role on the team. And when asked about McGee and his start to the season, Chandler couldn’t have been more complimentary.
“It’s been great. This is the best basketball I’ve seen JaVale play. Honestly, I’m proud of what he’s been able to accomplish and how far he’s come in his career.” Chandler said. “He’s been playing great for us. Before I got here I was saying how amazing he was playing.”
While the two big men play the same position, Chandler adamantly dismissed the notion he’s going after McGee’s starting job. “My hope is to make his job easier so he stays fresh and can give us throughout the year the type of minutes he is. As well as me. The goal is for us to help each other, not go against each other,” Chandler said.
To further emphasize that notion, he spoke with McGee to ensure they were on the same page. “That’s the first conversation I had, because I wanted to make it known,” Chandler explained. “He’s balling, so I don’t want to get in his way at all. I want to just come and help the team.”
Having McGee and Chandler at his disposal has afforded Lakers head coach Luke Walton to cycle through his centers and keep size on the court at all times.
“It’s been great. We preach what we do on defense, and it ends with rebounding. Having one of those guys out there at all times gives us a much better chance at rebounding basketballs, protecting our rim,” Walton said.
“We were bleeding points in the paint and offensive rebounds. We’ve started to clean some of that up with being able to keep one of them out there at all times.”