When the Phoenix Suns traded Jared Dudley, it immediately signaled that Tyson Chandler could be next. However, Chandler should not be traded.
With the surprising trade of Jared Dudley to the Brooklyn Nets for Darrell Arthur who will be waived, the Phoenix Suns saved a couple million bucks this season. But then with a secondary trade with the Philadelphia 76ers brought back Richaun Holmes and his small salary, plus Phoenix sent Philly an extra million dollars, the savings that came by trading Dudley’s $9,530,000 contract was entirely wiped out.
Phoenix traded Dudley for one specific reason: he was never going to play for the Suns this season. It had nothing to do with his salary. Not only was he already near the back end of the roster anyway, but with so many young wings and fours on the roster that management needs to see play to decide on their value to the franchise in the future, Dudley may never have really even left the bench except to high five teammates at the start of timeouts.
It is obvious that General manager Ryan McDonough’s intention wasn’t to save money but was instead to find more youthful pieces who can potentially play while also sending Dudley to a situation where he will actually be a part of a rotation.
The situation for Tyson Chandler is entirely different.
As was Dudley’s, Chandler’s contract is up at the end of this season, so once again, trading him just to save money doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since the team will have those savings in about 11 months anyway.
That said, unlike Dudley, Chandler is still a productive member of the roster and has a valuable role to the team: mentoring and backing up Deandre Ayton.
The Phoenix Suns cannot screw up their first ever first overall pick. Not only do they have to teach him to be the best possible player on the court, but also the best possible player off it. On this roster, there are now only two veterans of at least 30-years-old or older, and Tyson Chandler is one of them. He is the Patriarch of the roster and arguably the most professional.
Having a player such as Chandler, who is heading into his 18th season in the NBA, is paramount to the early success and learning curve of Ayton and should absolutely be retained to help soften the blow of Ayton’s first season in the NBA. Not only can Chandler appropriately mentor Ayton on the best off-the-court practices, but also how to deal with adversity on the court, especially on how to defend the better centers in the league, how to read what defenses are throwing at him, how to be in the best post position, etc.
Sure, Jared Dudley could have – and without a doubt would have – done the same for the younger players on the roster, however with the addition of Trevor Ariza (the only other 30+-year-old on the roster at 33) and the fact that Phoenix did not pick up any new power forwards in the draft, the only wing addition was Mikal Bridges who doesn’t project to be a future superstar so Dudley’s off-the-court coaching wasn’t quite as necessary.
Tyson Chandler’s still is.
Of course, if the Suns receive an offer for Chandler that helps the franchise moving forward, or he (professionally) asks for a trade to a winner and Phoenix can oblige, then certainly McDonough will think long and hard about his options. If Tyson does ask for a trade, I believe that he too will patiently stand pat until the trade deadline to help mentor Ayton for the time being, help the team win by being one of the best backup centers in the league, and allow himself the opportunity to pick and choose from the number of offers that the Suns are certain to receive.
That said, if he is willing to stay through until the end of the year, Ryan McDonough should not trade him. Chandler is too necessary to the development of Ayton, he is too good of a professional and player to be let go for nothing, and the team needs him to play out the final season of his contract to best help Ayton and the team win now, a final season that projects to be the best of Chandler’s four years in the Valley of the Suns.