In the first day agents and players can talk to teams on contracts, news has surfaced out of ESPN that the Raptors are among five teams that are chasing the services of star center Tyson Chandler.
According to sources at ESPN, Chandler is expecting to open camp with a new team this year.
"I really think I'm going to be on a new team come training camp," Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. "I'm really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me."
Not happy with the lack of communication between both sides since the lockout, Chandler will likely be looking elsewhere for employment.
The other teams include New Jersey, Dallas, Golden State and Houston.
Chandler, widely regarded as one of the better defensive centers in the league, would finally arrive in Toronto, where he was originally traded to last season.
The deal, which was nixed in the last moments by Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, would have brought Boris Diaw to Toronto as well in exchange for Raptors point guard Jose Calderon and power forward Reggie Evans.
However, the deal did not end up going through, as the Bobcats elected to swing a deal with the Mavericks, acquiring the expiring contract of Erick Dampier for Chandler's services.
Dampier was immediately bought by the Bobcats, and the rest you can say was history for Chandler and the Mavericks.
Along with centers Nene, Sam Dalembert and Marc Gasol, this 2011 short offseason is likely the best time for center-starved clubs to spend the cash they need to to acquire that big missing piece.
Last season, Chandler averaged 10.8 PPG and 9.4 RPG, as well as blocking 1.04 shots a game.
His presence next to Andrea Bargnani if they come to a deal would mean Bargnani would move over to his natural power forward position, and Chandler would man the middle for the Raptors.
With first-round choice Jonas Valanciunas playing this season in his native Lithuania, this will give the Raptors and Valanciunas more time to adjust to the high-paced NBA game.
Again, all of this is dependent upon the Raptors winning Chanlder's services. One fact that could favor the Raptors is coach Dwayne Casey, who was the defensive coach last season for the Dallas Mavericks.
Highly touted by many around the NBA, and even more by Tyson himself, Casey's no-nonsense approach to the game really helped Chandler become a force last season with the Mavericks.
NBA camps open up Dec. 9, 2011, so time will be ticking fast for free agents to sign in time. Expect a decision on Chandler and many other free agents to be coming through the pipelines in the next week to 10 days.
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