Tyson Chandler Signs With the Los Angeles Lakers

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The veteran center Tyson Chandler cleared waivers Tuesday and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, who are counting on the 36-year-old to bring a much-needed boost to the Lakers’ ailing defense.

Two clear needs have emerged as the Lakers have stumbled to a 4-6 start to the LeBron James era — more interior depth to address their defensive and rebounding woes and more dependable perimeter shooting.

Chandler can’t help with the latter, but the Lakers are hoping that the defensive anchor of the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 championship team remains healthy and mobile enough to bring more rim protection and leadership, despite being eight seasons removed from the peak of his career.

The Lakers entered Tuesday ranked 23rd in the league in team defensive rating, allowing 111.6 points per 100 possessions. Chandler will be asked to serve as a defensive-minded complement to JaVale McGee, who has unexpectedly emerged as one of James’s most efficient and reliable teammates after the Lakers signed him away from the Golden State Warriors in free agency.

Rob Pelinka, the team’s general manager, said the move was a result of what he and Magic Johnson, the team’s president, had observed over the first 10 games of the season.

“One of the areas that Earvin and I discussed with Luke that we desired to upgrade is interior defense and rebounding,” Pelinka said in a statement, referring to Johnson and Coach Luke Walton. “In Tyson Chandler we addressed that need, and so much more.”

As The New York Times first reported Saturday, Chandler secured a buyout from the youth-laden Phoenix Suns in hopes of becoming a free agent and finding his way to a team focused on winning now, in his 18th N.B.A. season.

James responded to the report and Chandler’s looming arrival by telling local reporters: “We love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran. A guy who plays hard, who is very smart and another champion.”

James noted that the signing “adds depth” to an area in which “we’ve struggled at times.”

Chandler is in the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract he signed with the Suns in the summer of 2015 after completing his second stint with the Mavericks. In the buyout with Phoenix, Chandler surrendered $2.1 million of his current $13.6 million because that is the same amount he will earn with the Lakers on a one-year veteran minimum deal.

Chandler was a high school star in the Los Angeles area before proceeding directly to the N.B.A. as the No. 2 overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2001 draft. There he teamed with Eddy Curry, another prep-to-pro big man, in what was known as the Baby Bulls, an experiment that failed spectacularly.

But Chandler slowly developed into one of the top defenders in the N.B.A., sticking to a well-defined if somewhat limited role on offense.

His career peaked in a two-year period in which he won an N.B.A. title with Dallas in 2011 and then, after being traded to the Knicks, was named the N.B.A.’s defensive player of the year for the 2011-12 season. That season he averaged 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game, leading the N.B.A. in field goal percentage and being named third-team All-N.B.A.

He played sparingly this season before negotiating his release from the Suns — averaging just 12.7 minutes in seven games — but remained a vocal presence in the Phoenix locker room.

McGee has emerged as an absolute steal for the Lakers, averaging 14.4 points and 7.5 rebounds through the season’s first 10 games while shooting 61.4 percent from the field. But McGee’s 26.2 minutes per game represent his biggest on-court responsibility since he averaged 25.2 minutes per game for Washington and Denver in 2011-12. Chandler’s arrival will potentially lighten McGee’s load, while also shoring up a second unit that was desperately in need of a center.





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