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Scott Howard-Cooper

Unlike his feelings towards other former teams after leaving, Tyson Chandler still feels a bond with Dallas.
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Mavs' slow start weighs on Chandler despite move to Knicks

Posted Dec 29 2011 7:16AM

OAKLAND -- He still refers to the Mavericks as "my teammates," which is probably habit, and said he got angry at family members for taking joy while watching Dallas' defensive woes against Miami on television in the Christmas dismantling. It is definitely a loyalty to a franchise he will always appreciate after being part of a championship.

But make no mistake. Tyson Chandler -- Tyson Chandler of the Knicks -- has no conflicted sense of place.

New York is home after a four-year contract worth a reported $56 million and a recruiting job from Carmelo Anthony that wasn't -- Melo called and talked as if it was understood Chandler would anchor the defense, without any uncertainty it would actually happen. And if it hadn't been New York, Chandler would have joined the Warriors, the opponent Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, and, in fact, he said he had all but decided on Golden State before the Knicks jumped in late.

The Mavericks?

"My teammates," yes, but in a strange past where he played a pivotal role in a title in late June and by early July and the start of the lockout was already realizing he had no chance at a long-term contract if the front office was plotting for cap space for summer 2012 and a packaged pursuit of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

Chandler sees it all so clearly now, after initially dismissing the premonition from agent Jeff Schwartz that life in Dallas may not last much past the parade. In his mind -- and he says in the mind of the prominent Mavs holdovers -- the title defense was sacrificed to build a war chest for Free Agency '12.

"I understand what he's (owner Mark Cuban) thinking," Chandler said. "He's thinking about next summer and Dwight and D-Will and maybe being able to hit a home run and landing both. But the problem with that is if Dwight ends up in L.A. or with the Nets or anywhere else, it kind of shatters that whole thinking. Then I guess it's back to the drawing board.

"The only thing at this point that's disappointing is my teammates," Chandler said. "I love Dirk (Nowitzki). I love J-Kidd (Jason Kidd). I love Jet (Jason Terry). I love my entire staff and coaching staff. It's difficult to watch them going through what they're going through. It's so early in the season, but just knowing that you don't have the same kind of firepower to contend and really go after it and be back-to-back champions."

Of course Chandler has taken note of the Mavs' opening with 105 points allowed and 48.7 percent shooting by the Heat as the Chandler family cheered the defensive face plant and then 115 points and 49.4 percent by the Nuggets, just in time to face flammable Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City in two of the next four games. Everyone has taken note.

"I know that's the hole," Chandler said. "I know that I was there filling a lot of that void last year. I can see it. I'm barking at the TV when I was watching the game because I know what's going on. It just is what it is. I think it's difficult for guys to go out there and play and I think a lot of it for those guys is that we won a championship last year together and basically the guys in the locker room were told, 'We're looking for next year.' These are guys that just came off of winning a championship, guys with a lot of heart, a lot of passion for the game. They know that the organization is looking to next year. It's almost expected that they get off to a slow start. I don't believe this is going to continue, honestly. They're too good not to start beating some teams. But I knew a tough start was going to happen.

"I was watching the game against Miami after our game (against the Celtics on Christmas) in a restaurant with my family. You know how family is. I'm gone so even though they love those guys over there, it's like, 'Yep, see, they never should have let you go.' I'm sitting there and I honestly got a little angry and I barked at my family a little bit. I didn't want to see my teammates go through that. I didn't want to see them look the way they did. But I sensed it was going to come. In all honesty, I don't look back because I honestly wish them success. In the past, if you would have asked me the question about the Bulls or the Hornets, I love to see them lose when I leave. But it wasn't the same way with Dallas. I actually wanted to see them start off well and do good for the guys that were there."

There is no sense of joyful vindication in Chandler's voice. Besides, his new team has its own problems after dropping to 1-1 with an embarrassing showing Wednesday, a 92-78 loss despite facing a Warriors team without Stephen Curry because of an ankle injury and Monta Ellis making just 8 of 22 shots. But it's still hard not to notice and not to care about the Mavericks. It's hard not to be disappointed.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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