Extra, Extra: Tyson Chandler unplugged

Much has changed since I last posted here, though I trust anyone coming to ye old NBA Confidential hub on any sort of routine basis knows by now to find me at SI.com. I’m thrilled to report that the ‘Lockout Central’ tab above is now irrelevant and will soon become a historical reference rather than a place for the latest NBA news. We’re back to actual basketball again, and it’s with that that I drop this interview with New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler.

The top free agent of the latest class talked at length before the Knicks dropped a stinker to a Stephen  Curry-less Golden State squad, explaining how close he was to joining the Warriors, why he chose the Knicks and how he sees the Dallas situation he never wanted to leave behind. Be sure to read my piece on Chandler from tonight here, but below is the extra material that didn’t make the story. Chandler was awful against the Warriors, but I still love the signing and think he will eventually be phenomenal for New York.

CHANDLER

General comments on the Knicks…

“The players are really good guys. The training staff, the coaching staff, is amazing. The organization made it really easy for my transition.”

On his potential impact…

“I thought I could have a huge impact, just because of the players who were out (in New York). They already had a good team, and I felt that when a team is a very good team and (just) pieces away to become a great team, and I felt like I could be one of those pieces and fill some voids that were needed here.

“Playing against this team in the past, you know they’re going to score a ton of points. But they’re also going to give up a ton of points. That’s one of the things that we’re working on this year is continuing to score those points with giving up less.

On whether he can have the same impact with New York that he did with Dallas…

“I think I can definitely have the same impact. I’ve got guys here who are willing to buy in to defense. A lot has been said about Amar’e (Stoudemire). A lot has been said about Carmelo (Anthony), but individually those guys can actually play D. And you guys might laugh – I laughed because I knew you guys were going to laugh at my statement (quick explanation: I noted that Chandler had laughed as well; hence the last comment) – but if you look back and you look at when those guys played for the USA team, for Coach K, they got after it. And I know that’s a small amount of time, but when you buy into wanting to win, you make sacrifices. I think these guys are at the point in their career – I know these guys are at the point in their career, where they really want to win. They want to win a championship. They know what it’s going to take, and they’re willing to do so.”

On Carmelo Anthony calling Chandler to recruit him in free agency (which led to Chauncey Billups being amnestied as a result)…

“Just talking to them and understanding the potential here, being able to play in New York City, the biggest city in the world, alongside himself, Amar’e, and there always was a good cast of players, and being under coach (Mike) D’Antoni’s system.

On not returning to Dallas…

“I spoke with my agent (Jeff Schwartz). My agent is a very good agent and I trusted him a lot, except for this situation. He was telling me he didn’t think I was going to resign with Dallas. He was telling me the negotiations with (Dallas owner Mark) Cuban weren’t going to go so well. He didn’t think they were going to move, and he didn’t think I would necessarily be back there…I didn’t believe him. In my heart of hearts, I thought, ‘Yeah, Cuban is going to play games with you. He’s a business man, but at the end of the day he’s going to come through and make an offer and I’m going to be back in Dallas.’ And that just never happened.

“There will never be any ill feelings towards the organization, towards Cuban, definitely (not) towards anybody else, because I won a championship there. It was the height of my career so far.”

On how he sees Dallas’ tough start…

“The only thing at this point that’s disappointing is my teammates. I love Dirk (Nowitzki). I love J-Kidd (Jason Kidd). I love Jet (Jason Terry). I love my entire coaching staff. And it’s difficult to watch them going through what they’re going through. It’s so early in the season, but just knowing that you don’t have the same kind of firepower to contend and really go after it and be back-to-back champs.

“I talked to Jason, Dirk, Jet before I made my decision to sign with the Knicks. I knew they wanted me back, but they also understand that this was the best decision for me. They encouraged me to go…They said, ‘That makes sense for you. You should go.’

On how close he was to signing with Golden State…

“It was really close. The Knicks thing was a last minute deal – really last minute. I was pretty much on my way here. I just pretty much wanted to make sure that this was the right decision, so I wanted to take my time with it, but I really wanted to be in training camp to start when it opened up with my new teammates and new coaching staff. So I was going to let them know before that Friday (Dec. 9) to be here…That Wednesday night (Dec. 7), that’s when the Knicks called and that put a hold on everything.

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