PORTLAND, Ore. — The two biggest surprises during what has been a tumultuous start to LeBron James’ first season in Los Angeles have been JaVale McGee’s productivity on the defensive end and the glaring lack of rim protection the Lakers have without him on the floor.
Through 10 games, the 4-6 Lakers are giving up 5.7 more points per 100 possessions to opponents when McGee is on the bench than when he’s on the court. The rest of their center corps — namely Ivica Zubac and rookie Jonathan Williams — haven’t been able to match his impact.
That’s why it made all the sense in the world when news broke over the weekend that the team was planning to add veteran center Tyson Chandler once his buyout from the Phoenix Suns was completed. The 36-year-old Chandler is well past his prime in his 18th year in the league, but if he has anything left, he can only help a Lakers squad that needs reinforcements in the worst way.
Before the signing became official on Tuesday, most of the team steered clear of the subject, because talking about players who are not officially on the roster is a tricky area. The rules for tampering are not as strict for players as they are for coaches or executives, but most players acted like they hadn’t heard the news when asked.
James, however, doesn’t need to play by such rules and spoke glowingly of the possible future addition of Chandler.
“We love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran,” James said after the Lakers’ win in Portland on Saturday. “A guy who plays hard, a guy who’s very smart and another champion to add to the champions that we have in this system here today so and it adds depth in our frontcourt. Which we have had trouble with at times.”