Tyson Chandler is thinking about leaving $12.75 million on the table? What???!!!
So let me get this straight, Tyson Chandler is owed almost $13 million for next season and he’s reportedly thinking about opting out of the final year of his contract and testing the open waters of free agency madness. Hmm…
We are talking about the same Tyson Chandler who limped through fifty one games last season averaging 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, right? The same dude who was unable to unseat the paleolithic Theo Ratliff during the franchise’s inaugural Playoff run in April and May? The same player who OKC general manager Sam Presti (the NBA’s equivalent of Steve Jobs) rejected in a deal for table scraps due to a lingering foot injury that was supposedly healed last summer? Huh?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not ripping Tyson Chandler the human being or even Tyson Chandler the basketball player (he’s shown in previous seasons that he most definitely belongs in the League), rather I’m questioning the logic that would lead Tyson and his agent to walk away from an incredible sum of guaranteed money for a player of Tyson’s production level. Is there brilliance hidden away in this seemingly illogical proposition?
1. Tyson and Rod Higgins have a long-term deal worked out.
To me, this makes the most sense. I couldn’t find any CBA restrictions against it (though some of our more cap versed readers may) but Tyson could very well opt out of his current contract in order to sign a three or four year contract for slightly above market value, say 4 years, $32 million. I still think this is way too much to throw at a player who hasn’t been healthy in three years but if Higgins, Coach Brown and MJ think that Chandler will eventually return to NOHo form, then it’s at least justifiable. A healthy Tyson Chandler at $8 million per as your starting center is far from the team’s worst case scenario.
Re-signing Tyson at this dollar figure would give the team an extra $4.75 million of wiggle room going into free agency, allowing the team more flexibility to re-sign Tyrus Thomas and add a point guard via free agency or trade. In summary, the ‘Cats get some much needed short term cap relief and Tyson gets some extra fiscal security in case his foot never fully heals.
2. Tyson and his Agent are Genuinely Worried about the New CBA
The NBA is losing money and is intent on fixing the broken labor model as the League (and the country) heads into a new economic era. The salary cap has already lowered in consecutive seasons and there is talk of reducing the maximum year and dollar limits on player contracts. In this forthcoming scenario, only the very cream of the League’s crop (Lebron, Wade, Anthony) will receive massive contracts as their supporting cast members will be left to divvy up the leftovers of a smaller pie.
Chandler and his agent may see this future clearly and decide that after 2011, a third tier NBA starting center will be earning considerably less money. In this scenario, Tyson “gets” while the “gettin’ is good.” Sounds logical to me.