Suns: The One Area Where Tyson Chandler’s Leadership Needs Work

Oct 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) reacts to a foul called against him in the first half against the Utah Jazz at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) reacts to a foul called against him in the first half against the Utah Jazz at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night, the Phoenix Suns were about as humiliated as you could get in a meaningless preseason game. In a contest against the Denver Nuggets that was essentially over by halftime — when the Suns trailed by 27 — Phoenix racked up not one, not two, but THREE technical fouls, along with one ejection.

Sure, you’re thinking. That’s not surprising after Markieff Morris finished with the second most technicals in the league last year. It was probably the younger guys stepping out of line again. I’m sure the Suns’ shiny new veteran Tyson Chandler set them straight!

Oh, if only it were so. But while Keef did earn a first half technical, it was actually Chandler who crossed the line, picking up two quick technicals in the second half to book himself a one-way ticket to the locker room.

The cause of the technicals in — again — a preseason game? A tendency that most Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks fans — or really, anyone who’s been watching Chandler over the course of his career — are familiar with by now: arguing with the officials.

On the one hand, it’s tempting to laugh off the irony of the Suns’ new locker room leader losing his cool and getting ejected in a meaningless preseason game that was a blowout anyway. But considering this team’s recent history/problem in this exact area, it’s a little concerning.

Despite being in a leadership role for the first time in his career, Chandler’s three technical fouls and one ejection in only three preseason appearances is a trend that can’t continue. That all comes in only 41 minutes of action. Per 40 minutes, Chandler is averaging nearly three technical fouls so far in his tenure in Phoenix.

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If the Suns were some wide-eyed bunch of innocent youngsters, Chandler’s tendency of constantly griping with officials wouldn’t be a big issue. But with technical foul magnets on the roster like P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, Chandler’s preseason isn’t exactly setting the greatest example.

Alex Len has been ejected for a wrestling match with Hassan Whiteside, Eric Bledsoe is no stranger to technical fouls and Archie Goodwin‘s lack of playing time could make him an embattled presence on the court in time. Chandler’s presence is meant to stabilize and unite this young locker room, not provide a bad example of how to channel negative emotions on the court.

There’s no question that in terms of being a defensive anchor, encouraging the Suns how to communicate, sucking in defenses on pick-and-rolls and teaching the younger players more professional habits to adopt on a daily basis, Tyson Chandler is an excellent addition to this team. But this one area of his game is something Chandler will need to work on in 2015-16.

There’s nothing wrong with the team having a little bit of edge, but the biggest flaw in Chandler’s game is the way he constantly complains about calls he won’t ever get back anyway. That’s a terrible habit to pass on to such an impressionable bunch that already had problems in this area last year.

Remember when the technical foul problem got so bad that head coach Jeff Hornacek had to implement his rule that anyone who received a T would sit for the rest of the game?

That was something you’d see from a high school coach. It was just plain embarrassing at the NBA level, and the fact that Chandler has come out in a leadership role and racked up three technicals in three preseason games is a little discouraging.

Again, none of this is to disparage the more important things Chandler brings to the table. At 33 years old, it might be too late to teach an old dog new tricks. But even though Chandler has said he’s just going to be himself in terms of mentoring the younger guys, this is one area of his game that he’ll need to actively work at improving.

Otherwise, the frontcourt duo of Keef and Chandler is going to make Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook‘s technical foul spree in 2013-14 look like child’s play by comparison. When the Suns hit their rough patches of the season and things aren’t going their way, that’s when bad habits like this hurt not only the team, but the team’s whole vibe moving forward.

Next: 5 Steps To Markieff Morris Redeeming Himself

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