This week NBA players can report to team facilities for the first time since July 1, though training camps and formal contract signings won’t start until December 9—assuming, as ESPN.com noted, that the player’s association re-forms and officially approves the new collective bargaining agreement by then.
Politics aside, it looks like the Dallas Mavericks may already take a giant hit: The team’s center, Tyson Chandler (above far left), the defensive linchpin of last year’s title team, and a free agent, is talking like he’s out the door.
“We’ve got to get Tyson Chandler back—that’s the key,” Mavs guard Jason Terry told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Tuesday. “A whole lot of people are trying to get him, but if we’re serious about repeating as champions, he’s obviously the key piece.”
Chandler spoke to ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein on Wednesday and said he would have liked to have been signed to a pre-lockout contract extension. “I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” he said. He later added, “I want to be in camp with my new teammates as soon as possible.”
Citing anonymous sources “with knowledge of club’s thinking,” Broussard and Stein wrote that the Mavs fear that if they gave Chandler his open-market value, they would have less money to spend in the 2012 off-season, when they may need a “younger cornerstone player” to compensate for Dirk Nowitzki entering his twilight years.
With or without Chandler, the Mavs are already being counted out by Vegas bookmakers. As the Dallas Morning News reported, four NBA teams have better odds than the Mavs to win the NBA championship this year, including the long-hated Los Angeles Lakers, currently most-hated Miami Heat, and up-and-coming hate objects the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Of couse, the Mavericks beat all three of those teams in the post-season last year.