We know the Dallas Mavericks will make a hard run at re-signing the 7-foot-1 center who played such an integral role in the franchise finally capturing its first championship. So, which teams are legitimate threats to take him away?
The Mavs go in with the clear edge to re-sign the big man. And, Chandler might not find a better spot than Dallas to contend for a title this season. Still, he'll have options and big bucks waiting with every suitor. Here's a quick take on five teams, in no particular order, that could make a hard charge:
Minnesota Timberwolves Minnesota might seem like the NBA's Siberia and, well, it's hard to argue that isn't. But, is that about to change? Don Nelson thinks so. That's why the Hall of Fame coach lobbied hard for that job after the T'Wolves called it curtains for Kurt Rambis. Veteran mastermind Rick Adelman has the gig and don't you know he'd -- well -- love a frontcourt of Chandler and double-double machine Kevin Love? Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio will finally make his NBA debut, joining a roster that can at least be described as intriguing with Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Anthony Tolliver. This move would take a real leap of faith on Chandler's part, but Minnesota hasn't had an outlook this bright since Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell had a firm grip on the franchise.
Sacramento Kings The Kings could be just a season away from moving to Anaheim. Chandler is more of a San Bernardino County guy than Orange County, but nevertheless he could potentially play very close to home and family. The Kings are nowhere close to contending, but laid-back coach Paul Westphal, a Southern California guy himself, has some interesting, young talent with Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, J.J. Hickson and rookies Isaiah Thomas and "The Jimmer" (Jimmer Fredette). Center Samuel Dalembert is a free agent and could return with the right deal. The Kings are substantially below the salary cap and will have to spend some dough just to get to the cap minimum. Adelman, the T'Wolves coach proved that small-market Sacramento can contend.
Philadelphia 76ers This is a team that might be ready to pop with a nice mix of young talent and proven veterans returning for Doug Collins' second season. Coming off a playoff appearance and under new ownership, the goals are heightened. Six players averaged in double-digits last season and that doesn't include Evan Turner. The missing ingredient here is an athletic, rebounding center.The 76ers could use the amnesty provision to jettison Andres Nocioni, which would allow Philly to make a legitimate offer for Chandler. After the aging Boston Celtics, the Atlantic Division is wide open.
New Jersey Nets Superman, aka Dwight Howard, is the man the Nets want to pair with Deron Williams and ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chad Ford report that they're serious about trading for Howard and soon. The Nets still plan to hit free agency hard and Denver's Nene and Chandler are at the top of the list. Brook Lopez has proven he can score, but he doesn't rebound like a 7-footer should. The Nets have cap space and will have more if they amnesty Travis Outlaw. Avery Johnson's team is hardly loaded, but with Williams at the helm and a move to Brooklyn coming, Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov will do whatever it takes to buy a winner and steal the spotlight from Manhattan.
Houston Rockets The Yao Ming dynasty is over in H-town. The Rockets know life in the Southwest Division isn't easy and subtracting an integral player from the defending champs while helping themselves in the process would be a coup for Rockets GM Daryl Morey. Houston is positioned to make a move for Chandler and add him to a roster that includes Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry and young forward Patrick Patterson. At times last season the Rockets looked like a 6-foot-and-under team in comparison to the competition and Chandler's rebounding and defense would quickly take care of that little issue.