By the time the Dallas Mavericks got Tyson Chandler in a trade with Charlotte during the summer of 2010, his career was at a crossroads.
Chandler missed 37 games while playing for New Orleans during the 2008-09 season due to a toe injury. Then he missed 31 games while playing for Charlotte during the 2009-10 season due to a stress fracture in his left foot and minor ailments.
“When I went to the Hornets [who are now the Charlotte Bobcats], I had surgery that summer and I probably should have took the first maybe six weeks to two months off at the beginning of that season,” Chandler said before Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “But I really wanted to establish an identity with the team and go through training camp with the team and be there for the start of the season, and I did that.
“But because of that I had so many minor setbacks and it made a lot of people look at me in a different light. Oh, wait a minute, he’s having all these things, but all of it really had to do the surgery that I had that previous summer.”
By coming back too soon from his surgery, Chandler realized he put his career in jeopardy. That’s why by the time the Mavs traded Erick Dampier and others for the 7-foot center in July 2010, it was a huge gamble on the Mavs’ part.
Or, was it?
“It wasn’t a gamble at all because we were using Damp’s contract,” owner Mark Cuban said. “It was just a financial gamble more than anything else.
“If it didn’t work, it would have cost me money. But it did work, so I was happy.”
Chandler experienced an injury-free season for Dallas, brought a defensive culture to the organization and the Mavs went on to capture the 2011 NBA title. Forward Dirk Nowitzki said the Chandler trade was a gamble on the Mavs’ part that obviously paid off handsomely.
“He basically hadn’t played in a year-and-a-half,” Nowitzki said. “We were hoping we would get exactly that — an athletic center that could finish above the rim and then guard on defense.
“He basically stayed pretty injury-free since then. I’m happy for him.”
Will Mavs honor Tarpley?
Cuban said he still hasn’t decided if his franchise will honor former Mavs center/power forward Roy Tarpley, who died last Friday.
“We talked about it, and the family hasn’t really reached out to us and we haven’t reached out to them,” Cuban said. “The fact that the whole suspension thing ... I’m not sure.
“Right now, the answer is no.”
Tarpley played for the Mavs from 1986-90 and again during the 1994-95 season. However, he was permanently banned from the NBA in December 1995 for violating terms of a court-imposed personal aftercare program and for using alcohol.
Tarpley later sued the Mavs and the NBA, claiming that because they refused to reinstate him, it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because his addiction was a disability. In March 2009, the suit was settled out of court.
Cuban appeared torn on whether to honor Tarpley, who died at the age of 50.
“I used to come to games when I first got to Dallas and watch him play,” Cuban said. “Him just shooting and scoring and rebounding and defending.
“It’s just a shame the way things turned out. He’s got family [in Dallas] still. I just hope the best for them.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760