The Los Angeles Lakers are still piecing things together in this first season with LeBron James on the roster. This week, the team was able to make one valuable addition, signing Tyson Chandler after he was waived by the Phoenix Suns.
Typically, veterans on struggling teams like Chandler get waived around mid-season, when we have a good idea of what teams are playoff bound and what their needs are.
That made the timing of the Suns’ decision to release him, and his immediate move to the Lakers a bit suspect.
JaVale McGee has actually been pretty solid at center for L.A., but there had been no depth behind him. Ivica Zubac has not been an answer, and the other solutions for minutes at the five have been LeBron and Kyle Kuzma, who are obviously out of position at the five.
Things make a bit more sense when you remember that the new Phoenix Suns’ general manager is long-time LeBron James teammate and friend James Jones.
Jones played with James in Miami, and followed him to the Cleveland Cavaliers late in his career. He has since worked his way up the front office ranks, and became the Suns’ interim GM in early October.
ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin says a league source told him that waiving Tyson Chandler was Jones helping out James pretty directly:
There’s one working theory of why the Suns granted Chandler the buyout now instead of in February or March when the traditional wave of buyouts occur: Phoenix interim GM James Jones was a longtime teammate of LeBron’s in Miami and Cleveland.
“James did LeBron a solid,” a league source told ESPN.
When presented with the claim, LeBron said it was really Chandler who benefited the most.
“He deserves all the credit,” he told ESPN of Jones. “He was very instrumental. He did right by Tyson as a veteran.”
Chandler had eight rebounds in 23 minutes, as well as a few big defensive moments in his Lakers’ debut, a 114-110 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
If the Lakers get the ship righted and make a run as we get into the meat of the season, fans can definitely thank Jones for at least a minor assist.