Now that the Shaq trade is in the books and Robert Sarver got the salary relief that he was vying for, who will be the Suns’ starting center next season?
Louis Amundson is certainly not the answer, and Robin Lopez is nowhere near ready.
The solution may very well be found in the form of New Orleans Hornets center Tyson Chandler.
Rumors have been floating around NBA forums and blogs about a possible trade that would send Ben Wallace’s $14 million contract to the Hornets in exchange for the 7-1, 235-pound Chandler.
Chandler’s contract is not ideal ($12.3 million next year with a $13.1 million player option in 2010-11), but the Suns have been missing a big man who can defend, attack the glass, and play successfully next to Amar’e Stoudemire since Kurt Thomas left.
The Hornets have had enough of the brittle big man, as they even attempted to trade him to the Thunder at the trade deadline last season before the trade was rescinded.
New Orleans needs to shed quite a bit of payroll in order to stay under the luxury tax, and it seems shipping Chandler for a big expiring contract is how they want to go about it.
In fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers are even on record stating that if they were not able to get Shaq in a trade than they would have done a deal for Chandler, a deal most likely centered around newly-acquired Sun Ben Wallace.
The Hornets believe that Chandler is damaged goods, as he has had multiple ankle surgeries over the last few seasons. But if the Suns’ new-age training staff can revive Grant Hill’s gimpy, 36-year old ankles, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to work their magic on the 26-year-old’s ankles.
Chandler is notoriously a nine and eight guy, but he has the tools to run the floor and catch alley-oops from Nash much like he did with Chris Paul in New Orleans.
With the Diesel gone and the Suns searching for more defensive pieces, Tyson Chandler could be the perfect fit. The Suns get much younger and much deeper up front, with a more experienced Robin Lopez now coming off the bench.
The Suns still save enough to stay under the luxury tax, yet stay competitive enough for Nash to finally sign an extension (although not everyone is on board for that) and Amar’e to re-sign after next season.
Although no sources have reported the deal, the trade works for both teams and is nowhere near far-fetched.
If the Suns are able to draft a Terrence Williams or Earl Clark to play the three in Alvin Gentry’s offense, the Suns would gain youth and improve drastically on the defensive end.
Then with the team’s three second-round draft picks, they could either trade up for a first-rounder or snag some more big men and maybe a point guard or two.
If Tyson Chandler comes to Phoenix and the Suns hold on to the 14th pick, then the Suns’ roster could look a lot like this next season:
PG – Nash/Dragic/Tyrese Rice
SG – Richardson/Barbosa
SF – Terrence Williams/Grant Hill/Dudley
PF – Amar’e/Brockman/Adrien
C – Tyson Chandler/Robin Lopez
Yes Chandler is not exactly an iron man and his contract is pretty ugly. But if the Suns plan on holding on to Nash and Amar’e for the long haul, Chandler keeps the team competitive while adding youth to the roster.