DALLAS, Texas - Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joked Tyson Chandler is the most popular one-year player in the history of any franchise.
Chandler has played for five different teams in 13 NBA seasons, yet that one year he played with the Mavericks - 2010-'11 - is the one that made him a Mav for life.
"I spent one year here and everybody equates my career to being here," he said at Mavs' media day this week. "Even guys around the league (will ask), 'How many years did you play in Dallas?' And I'll say one. And they say, 'What?' Everybody thinks I was here four, five or six years. It was one really long, incredible year. I am definitely tied here and it's a great thing that I am."
Chandler, whom the Mavs acquired in the offseason in a trade with the New York Knicks, is back for the final year of his contract.
The first time he came here little was expected of Chandler. He was coming off another injury plagued season, then with the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I don't think anybody knew what to expect the first time around," he said. "Clearly this time around, having success and winning a championship, expectations are a little bit different."
His length, energy, activity and ability to change shots should improve the Mavs' defense immediately. This team has not been strong defensively on the perimeter, or at the rim, since he left. Chandler changes that, when he plays.
If there is any drawback to Chandler, or concern, is that he remains a guy who simply can't stay healthy. He has never played a full 82-game season, in the past two years he has been limited to 66 and 55 games, respectively.
In his one year with the Mavs, he played 74 games but did not miss a playoff game. I asked him if the "injury prone" label was fair.
"Uhh ... you know, I don't know. I've had injuries in my career. I guess you could throw that out there," he said. "Whether it's fair or not, it's not for me to honestly care about. I go day by day trying to perform to the best of my capabilities. And from there you never know what happens."
Carlisle has said managing Chandler's minutes - somewhere under 30 a night - is a priority. The Mavs do not expect him to play 82 games - they hope in the 70s - but a full playoff run will makeup for any regular season game he misses.
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