Knicks center Tyson Chandler should've booked some summer instructional time with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon by now rather than letting his statements at the end of the season -- or way he was outplayed by Roy Hibbert in the Knicks' playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers -- stand as his last words.
Amar'e Stoudemire, who is a far better scorer than Chandler, has already committed to seeing Olajuwon for a second straight summer. And now Knicks star Carmelo Anthony -- the NBA's top scorer, remember -- has said he will work with Olajuwon this offseason too.
That leaves Chandler -- the Knicks' frontcourt player who most needs the sort of help Olajuwon would provide -- passing on the same opportunity at a time when the Knicks know their greatest improvements are going to have to come from within. The Nets just swung a big trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, too, threatening the Knicks' ability to defend their Atlantic Division title.
Yet instead of Chandler coming out and saying he plans to get himself to Olajuwon's Houston-area ranch like Stoudemire did for two weeks last summer, or even offering some explanation, like the painful neck problems that dogged him at the end of the year still needing time to heal, one of Chandler's representatives essentially told ESPNNewYork.com's Jared Zwerling the same thing Chandler said in late May, after the Knicks' season ended: Chandler has no plans to work with Olajuwon at this time.
It's a rare mistake on Chandler's part. A case of a smart guy making a bad read.
But it looks even worse given how Chandler complained about the Knicks' offense after Game 3 against Indiana, and again after they lost the series to the lower-seeded Pacers.
When Chandler suggested after Game 3 that unnamed teammates were playing selfishly -- which was taken as a criticism of Anthony, and perhaps J.R. Smith -- Knicks coach Mike Woodson tried to pass it off by saying sometimes it's good to have "bickering" among teammates. But Anthony, looking annoyed, said he was "mystified" by Chandler's remarks.
Days later, Woodson was more pointed after being told on the team's breakup day that Chandler went beyond discussing his role and offered up a general critique of the Knicks' offense and the coaching staff.
"I would like for us to develop some consistency with the offensive game plan," Chandler told reporters. "Right now we're a jump-shooting team. And I'd like us to have a free-flowing offense.
"Everybody, to a man, is going to have to come back better, including the coaches," Chandler added.
So what is Chandler waiting for? Woodson's response was a critique of his own. He acknowledged that Chandler's neck problems and bout with the flu at the end of the season affected his play, saying, "Tyson has to physically get back."
Then Woodson mentioned the wish list he gave Chandler in their exit talk.
"I think he has to get on a weight program and try to bulk up a little bit," Woodson said. "We have talked about that some, as well as trying to develop a little bit on the low block and feel good about it.
"He mentioned yesterday that he wants to establish something, and I want to help him because I think big guys should be able to catch the ball and play offense and rebound the ball instead of tapping it out," Woodson added. "Rebound the ball to go back up and perhaps get a foul or score a bucket."
Olajuwon isn't the only post-up guru Chandler could consult, it's true. But he played the same position. And if Olajuwon is a good enough tutor for the likes of Anthony -- and LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in the past -- Chandler could definitely do worse.
When Olajuwon visited the Knicks' practice facility at Woodson's suggestion for a few days in September, Chandler said he'd hoped to book some time with Olajuwon last summer, but later had to forget the idea when he was chosen for the U.S. Olympic team.
So what's the holdup now?
The argument that the 30-year-old Chandler is what he is at this point in his career doesn't fly either.
Olajuwon doesn't buy it.
"You can see that he [Chandler] has great timing by the way he rebounds, blocks shots and catches lobs," he said during his visit. "He's got great timing and reflexes. I haven't seen him use any moves of his own, though. But there's no way a guy with that kind of talent and timing should not have effective moves."
Nobody is asking Chandler to become a 20-point scorer or the second coming of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar overnight. But look at it this way: NBA games are quite literally decided by a few buckets here and there. Last season, the Knicks averaged 100 points per game and gave up 95.7 points -- a scoring differential of plus-4.3 points per game. If Chandler averaged even a mere two or three more field goals a game, you think that wouldn't make a difference and keep defenses more honest?
The Knicks only ran true post-up plays on 8.3 percent of their possessions last season, according to Synergy Sports.
Chandler justifiably got and accepted a lot of credit for his leadership when he played on the Dallas Mavericks team that beat Miami for the 2011 NBA title. His reputation as a locker room presence and his defensive prowess were the major reasons the Knicks gave him his four-year, $58 million contract.
So it's a little mystifying that he'd whiff on this topic now.
The list of NBA All-Stars who believe in what Olajuwon offers is long.
But the name that's still missing on that list -- and shouldn't be -- remains Tyson Chandler's.