The Knicks entered the season with high expectations coming off a trip to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs but ended with a 37-45 record and the firing of coach Mike Woodson. Chandler was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in a six-player deal in June when new Knicks president Phil Jackson cited a desire to change the chemistry of the franchise. Those comments offended the big man, who prides himself on professionalism and leadership.
Chandler missed 20 games early last season because of a nondisplaced fracture of his right fibula, with the Knicks falling to 10 games under .500 in his absence. With a pained grin on his face, he said he believed he occasionally received too much blame for the Knicks' disappointing performance last season.
"At times, at times, at times," Chandler told ESPNDallas.com. "But I feel like New York made me a lot stronger, a lot stronger of a person going through trials and tribulations there. But that's life."
Chandler will face the Knicks on Wednesday night for the first time since the trade to Dallas. Chandler, considered a leader in the Mavericks' locker room and a negative influence in the Knicks', thinks the difference is his teammates' tolerance for his attempts to hold them accountable.
"I think people can take it differently and make it what they want to make it," Chandler said when asked whether his leadership attempts were lost in translation in New York. "It also depends on where your mind is. If everybody is locked in and they want to win and they know I'm in it 100 percent and they're in it 100 percent, nobody's sensitive. But if there's other agendas, it's going to make things sensitive."
Knicks players, including star Carmelo Anthony, have mentioned a lack of finger-pointing as evidence of improved chemistry this season. The Mavs targeted Chandler on the trade market in part because of the character he displayed during his previous stint in Dallas, when he was considered the emotional leader of the 2010-11 NBA champions.
Chandler is averaging 10.3 points and 10.3 rebounds for the 10-5 Mavs entering his reunion game with the 4-11 Knicks.
"Yeah, he's such a horrible influence, I can see why they got rid of him," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said sarcastically.
"He's been a great help, great impact on the court, off the court. Everything we thought he was, he was."
Chandler readily admits being disappointed in his performance last season, when he had to work his way back into shape after his injury. He excelled in his first two seasons in New York after signing a four-year, $55.4 million deal after the 2011 lockout, when Cuban made the salary-cap-influenced decision not to make him a multiyear offer.
Chandler was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 2011-12 and an All-Star in 2012-13, helping the Knicks reach the playoffs in both seasons and advance a round in the second. In September, Chandler expressed his displeasure with comments from Jackson that he considered "a shot at [his] character of professionalism."
"I just wanted to air it out," Chandler said. "Honestly, after that, I was done with it. My agent is like a big brother to me. He gave me a phone call and was like, 'Are you done?' I was like, 'Yeah, I'm done.'
"In all honesty, I'm so focused on the Mavericks that the Knicks are in my rearview mirror. I don't mean that in a negative way, but it's in the past, and I'm moving forward."