EL SEGUNDO — Since the season began, it’s been obvious that the Lakers needed to bolster their frontcourt.
The team took what it hopes will be a big step in the right direction on Tuesday afternoon, signing veteran center Tyson Chandler after he was bought out by the Phoenix Suns and cleared waivers. At 7-foot-1, Chandler is expected to fill an immediate need at backup center behind JaVale McGee.
General Manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement that he, team president Magic Johnson and Coach Luke Walton had discussed adding rebounding and rim protection after watching the first 10 games of the season.
“In Tyson Chandler, we addressed that need, and so much more,” he said. “We are excited that Tyson will bring championship-level experience to our Lakers team that will solidify our veteran leadership and help positively shape our young core. We are thrilled for Tyson to join us as we progress towards our ultimate goals as a team.”
Chandler could join the team as early as Wednesday, pending a physical. ESPN reported that Chandler will be earning $2.1 million from the Lakers after the Suns bought out the remainder of his allotted $13.6 million salary for this season.
Chandler, 36, is now the oldest Lakers player, as well as the most experienced. In his 18th NBA season, he’s made one All-Star team and has won one championship, helping the Mavericks defeat LeBron James’ Miami Heat team in 2011. Chandler also played for several incarnations of Team USA. Chandler made three All-Defense teams between 2011 and 2013, and was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
While he’s at the tail end of his career, the Lakers believe Chandler could be invigorated by a larger role on a more competitive team, and they value his presence in the locker room.
“We love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran,” James said over the weekend of Chandler. “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.”
Chandler is an L.A. native who played at Dominguez High in Compton. He was twice named Mr. Basketball in California and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Clippers in 2001, but he never played for them after he and Brian Skinner were traded to the Chicago Bulls for Elton Brand.
LeBRON STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF VOTING
Americans surged to the polls on Tuesday, and the NBA was among the sports leagues that spearheaded a Get Out The Vote campaign with a video of NBA stars talking about the importance of voting.
James also said it was important to vote, but he didn’t have to go down the street to do it. James told reporters he’s still registered in Ohio.
“That’s where I’m from,” he said. “That’s where I live and that’s home for me.”
James has been politically outspoken for several years, a genesis he traces to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 when he played for the Miami Heat. Since then, he’s endorsed a number of political candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He’s also feuded with President Donald Trump over video and social media channels.
Last month, James wore a campaign hat for Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for senator in Texas, to a game in San Antonio. While he declined to delve deeper into candidates he supports in the midterm election cycle this year, he said he hoped people would vote.
“It’s very important,” he said. “We always talk about we want change and then we get to this point and a lot of people don’t register and a lot of people don’t vote. But if we want change we have to have our voices and our boxes be checked for who we believe can make change. So, I’ve been pretty outspoken about it for quite a long time.”
MOVING ON FROM RAPTORS LOSS
After most games, the Lakers review the film as a team in the next practice. Not so with the 121-107 loss Sunday to the Toronto Raptors.
“We toss it in the trash and move forward,” Walton said. “Our transition defense was terrible, offensively we weren’t running to our spots, spacing was off. We weren’t making the extra pass. Defensively, we were letting, on our individual defense we were letting blow-bys happen. We were late on rotations. It was an all-around just sloppy game to watch.”
Walton said Tuesday’s practice was more physically taxing than normal, and the Lakers focused on running back in transition, which is foundational for all their defensive schemes.
The Lakers are also focused on rebounding, which was an issue the last time the team played Minnesota. The Timberwolves had 20 offensive rebounds last week when they beat the Lakers. In the rematch on Wednesday at Staples Center, the players were resolute that they don’t want to get beat on the boards.
“It’s about want to get the rebound,” James said. “Understanding that (when) we rebound, we are very good and we are going to do that.”
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