Tyson Chandler was living the dream.
Bought out by the Phoenix Suns, for the first time in his career he got to play for the team he grew up loving. And it wasn’t just any point in the team’s history — with LeBron James in the fold, they were surely headed for their first playoff berth in six seasons and Chandler would help them get there.
That was the plan anyway. Like most of the Lakers’ plans this season, they went awry.
“It’s the perfect storm,” Chandler said, sitting on the Lakers bench before his warmup Tuesday in Milwaukee. “It was already going to take everybody getting used to playing with a player like LeBron, and I’m saying that in a positive way. Somebody that brings so much to the table and you really run your offense through him. He’s one of the only players in the league that are capable of you just running your offense through him.
“So when you are just kind of getting used to him and you take him out of the equation, and you have young players that are getting used to him, and you take them out of the equation, and you start putting them back, it’s tough. I’m 18 years in, I played with him on Team USA, under different circumstances. It was even difficult for me in 18 years to learn [Rajon] Rondo, learn LeBron, learn Lonzo [Ball]. Learn everybody.”
Chandler was exalted by fans when he first took the floor for the Lakers — not just because the Compton Dominguez High graduate was a local. The team was desperate for some help at center, put in a position where they had to use JaVale McGee more than they were comfortable. Ivica Zubac was their only other center, but an illness in fall stalled Zubac’s start this season and the Lakers played him sparingly.
Their defense immediately improved upon Chandler’s arrival, but his minutes were limited.
Then, at the trade deadline, the Lakers depleted their big-man reserves once again by trading Zubac — since recovered and playing well — to the Clippers. They acquired Mike Muscala, who they hoped would stretch the floor, but Muscala has only played more than 15 minutes once, and often plays less than five minutes if at all.
With the playoffs out of reach and a stiff neck hampering him according to the Lakers’ injury report, Chandler hasn’t played in the past eight games.
“For me the place I am in my career, I enjoy it all,” Chandler said. “To be quite honest, of course the losing part is tough. I’m a competitor. But I don’t take for granted being in the locker room; I don’t take for granted being able to help young players and competing while I’m on the floor.”
Having been a life-long Lakers fan, though, does make this a little harder to take.
“It’s tough of course because I want it more,” he said. “I want it more for the city, I want it more for my teammates and I know where the organization’s, I know where they’re at and I know where they’re trying to go. I was very much looking forward to coming and being a part of and helping get this process going. I feel like I’ve done that regardless of what the circumstances of the season [were.]”
Machado called up
The Lakers plan to sign Scott Machado to a 10-day contract Thursday, according to a person familiar with their plans.
Machado was named the G-League player of the week last week when he averaged 25 points, 5.7 rebounds, 14 assists and 2.3 steals in the South Bay Lakers games. He led the team to three consecutive wins and scored a career-high 40 points with 16 assists in its win over the Wisconsin Herd.
Machado takes a roster spot vacated by fan favorite Andre Ingram.
The Lakers did not re-sign Ingram to a second 10-day contract after his first one expired Wednesday. Ingram played in four games averaging 3.8 minutes per game. He missed all of the six shots he took, but was often brought in for specialized situations.
Ingram, a 33-year-old who got his first shot in the NBA last season, played in Chicago, Toronto, Detroit and Milwaukee, each time to cheers. A Milwaukee fan section berated Lakers players with chants like “Pelicans” and “you’re a zero,” but when Ingram entered, they simply chanted his name.
The only game Ingram sat out on the Lakers’ road trip was their loss to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.