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A leader and a winner, Tyson Chandler joins Phoenix Suns with great expectations

PHOENIX — At the very moment he signed on the dotted line, Tyson Chandler arguably became the best center in Phoenix Suns history.

Or at least, that’s how the joke goes.

Truth is, a claim like that — facetious with hints of truth — cannot really be made until he puts on a Suns uniform and goes to work. When he does, though, the 32-year-old is expected to bring a considerable amount to a team that, quite frankly, is paying him a considerable amount.

In Chandler, a one-time All-Star as well as Defensive Player of the Year, the team believes it found someone who will help cure many of their ills.

“He knows how to play the game, he knows how to protect his teammates, how to talk to his teammates,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said as Chandler was being introduced as the team’s newest player at the US Airways Center. “Our biggest problem, probably, last year, is we didn’t have a lot of guys that talked. Tyson will be the director back there. He’ll tell the guys what defense we’re in, what the rotation (is). He’ll be helping them out that way.”

The 7-foot-1, 235-pound Chandler was the second overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft straight out of high school. He’s played for five different franchises since then, helping lead the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011. He has career averages of 8.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks to go along with a .591 shooting percentage.

But his talent is the only thing that led to the Suns wanting him. Hornacek noted Chandler has “seen everything,” which will be big in helping the young Suns grow up just a little more quickly.

“As coaches we can do preparation, on the court we can be yelling things out, but when the players and teammates are talking to each other out there on the court, that’s what makes a team good,” the coach said. “His value is going to be so high for us just in those terms. You put all his scoring and rebounding and everything else to the side; it’s just that presence out there with our young guys that’s going to be a tremendous help.”

The Suns won just 39 games last season, struggling at times in large part because of having an immature roster.

Chandler is more than happy to do his part both on and off the court to fix that.