After a few frustrating and injury-plagued years in the wilderness, Tyson Chandler found a championship-winning home with Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-11. Though Chandler would leave during the next offseason when the Mavericks declined to approximate New York’s massive free agent offer to Tyson (a move that, years later, still seems blameless for all involved), Chandler seemed to flourish playing in Texas alongside a point guard as heady and stat-averse as Chandler is.
Kidd and Tyson reconvened in New York last summer, but the reunion was brief. Though Kidd signed a surprising three-year deal with the Knicks, he faltered badly in the last months of what turned out to be his final season, retiring earlier in June to take on a head coaching gig with the Brooklyn Nets. In a recent interview with the New York Post, Chandler seems pretty bummed about that swift parting:
Speaking by phone from his offseason home in southern California, Chandler told The Post, “Actually I’m not surprised at all. Jason and I had a lot of conversations during the season about retirement and coaching. I tried to [convince him]. I did. I thought he had a couple of more years in him.
I gave my input. I tried to tell him he could still do it, and you have a lot left in you.’’
(You get the feeling that quite a few NBA assistant and head coaches though Kidd had a couple of more years in him … as an assistant coach, learning the ropes on the bench.)
“We’ll always be brothers,’’ Chandler said. “We won a championship together. I just was hoping it would end better here.
“I am sad, I am. Part of the reason Jason came to New York was maybe we could win another one.’’
Few expected Kidd to be the title-making difference for the Knicks in New York, though the team had its moments. Unfortunately for Kidd, his team’s most successful turn (a 13-game winning streak, pitched between mid-March and mid-April) coincided with Kidd’s diminishing returns. Though Jason started the season with a ridiculously hot touch from behind the arc, shooting 44 percent on three-pointers between the start of the season and dawn of 2013, that mark tailed off dramatically by the time 2012-13 ended.
When the playoffs hit, Kidd’s jumper was a mess, as was his touch around the rim. Kidd missed 22 of 25 shots in the postseason, missing his final 17 attempts as a pro (unless, Bob Cousy-style, he decides to suit up for the Nets at some point), including a trio of embarrassing open lay-ins.
“I didn’t consider it a slump,’’ Chandler said. “He’s a floor leader. He entered the game as a floor leader and leaves it as a floor leader. He didn’t make shots in the playoffs, but that’s not a slump for him. It’s everything else Jason brings.’’
What else is Chandler going to say? “I thought Jason really bit it during the playoffs?” Come on.
As observers, though, and not ex-teammates? We can point out that Kidd wasn’t a contributor. It’s true that you could be the game’s best floor leader without racking up a single assist or point, leading players into place and initiating successful possessions, but Kidd wasn’t exactly great guns at that during the postseason. Two lights-out defenses in Boston and Indiana played off of him, and the Knicks were essentially going 3-on-5 offensively with Kidd and the injured and offensively-challenged Chandler on the floor.
Which is a shame, some 23 months after acting as at times the second and third-biggest reasons why the Dallas Mavericks won an NBA title. Much has happened in the time since, as the two deal with the struggle of significant injuries and the onset of age, and it’s left the Knicks without a respected floor leader in Kidd (Raymond Felton is, um … getting there?), while worrying about Chandler’s future after a tough second season in New York.
The Boston Celtics, essentially, recently traded coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. We’re pretty sure Tyson Chandler would like to see the same talks start up between the Knicks’ front office, and their Brooklyn Nets counterparts.