Top 5 NBA Teams Most Likely To Sign Tyson Chandler

Throughout his 10 years in the NBA, Tyson Chandler has never been as in-demand as he is right now. After his defensive intensity helped the Mavericks finally win a championship last June, all signs pointed to Chandler returning to Dallas to try and do it again. But as an unrestricted free agent heading into the lockout, he knew things might not be that easy.

“With the collective bargaining agreement and some of the things that they’re trying to enforce, it would basically prohibit me from coming back,” Chandler told The Ben and Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN. “It would take it out of my hands – and the organization’s – because it would almost be pretty much impossible for me to re-sign. I just think that can be the worst thing that can happen.”

With Dallas currently locked into 10 contracts for over $63 million for the 2011-12 season, even Mark Cuban‘s deep pockets might not make it feasible to re-sign Chandler – especially with a desire to retain free agents J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal, and Peja Stojakovic as well.

While there has been discussions of Dallas using its “amnesty clause” on Brendan Haywood – who’s slated to make around $45 million over the next five years – the Mavs like having him as Chandler’s backup. At the same time, if they’re unable to re-sign him, it may be a moot point. With that, here are the top 5 teams most likely to sign him:

1. Dallas Mavericks
Despite all the numbers, all odds point to Chandler re-signing with Dallas. He wants to be there, they want him to be there, and you have to think that Cuban will figure out a way to make it all work. With that said, Chandler will have to take a cut from his $12.6 million salary last season, but the 29-year-old knew that coming into the new CBA.

2. Boston Celtics
Do the Celtics have one more shot at a title with their current core? The addition of Chandler would certainly put them in the conversation. During an NBA TV interview yesterday, TNT’s David Aldridge said that the Celtics are “looking very hard at Tyson Chandler.” As Aldridge notes, Boston desperately needs a center and is a team with very few players under contract right now. While Danny Ainge looks to build his squad for the next five years, investing in Chandler would make sense – especially if it looks like Dwight Howard is headed to the Western Conference.

3. Houston Rockets
Just like all free agent battles, teams get the best of what’s left. And for franchises in search of a center, they’ll have to wait and see which player is the first domino to fall. Chandler’s fellow free agent centers include Nene, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Samuel Dalembert, and Greg Oden. While Chandler might not be at the top of Houston’s list right now, if players go quick, he might become their top priority. Remember, Houston tried to trade for Chandler last summer too.

4. Los Angeles Clippers
As with Houston, the Clippers don’t have Chandler slated as a top priority right now. In fact, it’s more likely that they will sign his Mavericks teammate Caron Butler to fill their void at small forward. With that said, if DeAndre Jordan finds his way to Houston – a scenario in which he said himself that he can definitely see – then the Clippers would be remiss not to take a look at Chandler, who keeps his offseason residence nearby.

5. Toronto Raptors
Chandler wants to win, but he also wants to get paid. And if he has any hope of making close to the $12.6 million he earned last season, he’s going to have to look at a team like Toronto. According to Eric Koreen of the National Post, Chandler would be “a perfect free-agent candidate, especially considering he and [Dwane] Casey formed a relationship in Dallas.” If you remember, Chandler actually confirmed to Yahoo! Sports last summer that he was being traded to the Raptors as part of a three-team deal that eventually fell through. With Casey preaching defense, Chandler would be the perfect fit.

What team do you think is most likely to sign Tyson Chandler?

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