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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Chandler: I saw Mavs' struggles coming

By Ian Begley

Some people may be surprised by the defending champion Dallas Mavericks' 0-2 start.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler isn't one of them.

"I kind of seen it coming," he said.

Chandler -- the Mavs' starting center last season -- says the way Dallas approached free agency was a bad sign.

"I'm not saying that they don't have the pieces there [to compete for a title]. I obviously think very highly of those guys," Chandler said. "But I say that because they offered everybody one-year deals, so they knew nobody was going to necessarily accept that. So you're basically telling all the players in the locker room, 'We're playing for free agency next year after a [year after winning a] championship.'"

Dallas offered Chandler a two-year deal, according to reports. He signed a four-year, $58 million contract with the Knicks.

The Mavericks also opted to let J.J. Barea sign elsewhere. Barea, a spark plug during Dallas' run through the playoffs, signed a four-year contract with Minnesota. Instead of accepting a one-year deal from the Mavericks, Caron Butler signed with the Clippers, reportedly for three years. Deshawn Stevenson also left for New Jersey via free agency.

The Mavericks then brought in Vince Carter (on a mini mid-level exception) and Delonte West (on a one-year deal) and traded for Lamar Odom.

According to reports, their decisions were mostly made with a focus on maintaining cap space for the summer of 2012, when Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are expected to test free agency.

Chandler said Dallas' focus on next season instead of trying to repeat is "tough to face" for the Mavs' veterans.

"The type of guys that they've got at this time in their career, it's tough to face that so I think they're just going through a little lull right now," he said. "But I'm hoping for those guys that it turns around because there's truly good guys in the locker room."

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