After all the conjecture and speculation, Dampier's vaunted contract was finally put to use today, as the Mavericks acquired Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca for Erick Dampier, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera. At the end of the day, it appears that the Mavericks did in fact take into account finances while looking for ways to improve.
The much-rumored Al Jefferson deal hit a snag when the Mavericks insisted on including the contracts of Deshawn Stevenson and Matt Carroll. Dumping the contracts of Stevenson and Carroll would have helped alleviate some of the financial burden induced by taking on Jefferson's contract and the additional luxury tax that has to go with it.
Is Tyson Chandler better than Al Jefferson? No, I don't think anybody would argue that. The difference is, with Jefferson you're stuck with four more years at $42 million; Chandler has an attractive $12.6 million expiring contract. Now, will it be used at the trading deadline? Maybe, maybe not. But, you have the flexibility if you need it. Flexibility you would not have had you acquired Al Jefferson. So, what will Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca bring to the Dallas Mavericks?
Many Mavericks fans look at Chandler and remember the guy that tortured them in the '08 playoff series and then look at the numbers he's had since being traded to Charlotte and see a player on the decline. While that may be true, the difference is Chandler was playing with Chris Paul in 2008. In Charlotte he was playing with Raymond Felton and former Longhorn great DJ Augustine. Quite a drop-off. Kidd should be able to provide Chandler with the opportunities needed to bounce back to the 10 and 10 guy he was while playing with Paul.
Chandler also has an excellent defensive game. He is a rebounding machine -- probably in the top two or three in the NBA in terms of offensive rebounds. He relies on his quickness to effectively defend the pick and roll, defends post players real well, and also gets his share of blocks. The biggest risk here is Chandler's health. A healthy Chandler is effective.
Ajinca is a 7-foot-1 center from France. He is very raw. He also has a world of potential. Ajinca has a set of skilled post moves which allow him to move around gracefully in the post. Like with any young player, the problem he has is finishing on a consistent basis. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 22 games with the Bobcats D-League team last year. The talent is obviously there. The 3.1 blocks may be a little misleading, just because he relies on his freakish wingspan to block shots and is still often times overmatched at the defensive end. However, at 22 years old, there is still a lot of time for him to develop and I suspect he'll get that chance while playing with the Mavericks D-League team in Frisco this year.
The goal with Dampier's contract was to improve the team. Did this trade do that? Yes. Now, with names like LeBron and Wade associated with it, this has to be a little bit of a let down. But all in all, the Mavericks upgraded their center position, did not destroy all their other tradeable assets and picked up a very nice $12.6 million expiring contract. Not bad.