Even with the looming NBA lockout (any other sports wanna join?), it's still that time to focus on free agency in the NBA off-season and Chad Ford is off to the races with his Top 10 Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents available. Topping the list is Tyson Chandler, an interesting choice given his former reputation for being soft and never living up to potential. While Chandler's game is certainly better than ever, it's also a sign of just how high winning a championship can take you.
When writing on why Chandler tops his list, Ford writes, "Chandler is hitting free agency at exactly the right time. After 10 years in the league, he's finally injury-free and has become the sort of defensive force that the Bulls thought he could be when he was drafted out of high school in 2001. He was the key piece of the puzzle for Dallas' championship run. And he's in a weak free-agent market devoid of big men who can make a difference."
It's that last line that's quite interesting since Ford references the very reasons why recent Kansas graduate Markieff Morris was selected. Chandler is now a seasoned veteran who just played the best season of his life on the best team he's ever played on. Any chances he'll continue that sort of defensive success over the next few seasons after 10 years of a pro career? Many teams are said to be interested, including the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, so someone will break the bank for his frontcourt services.
Meanwhile, several teams passed over the versatile defensive talents of Markieff Morris in the NBA Draft as he fell to No. 13 to the Suns -- a player who brings a strong presence underneath in a much younger body. Markieff is three inches shorter, at 6-10, but weighs 10 more pounds than the 7-1, 235 Chandler. They're not identical players to any degree, so this isn't so much about which player is better. Instead it's simply to dispel the ridiculous idea that it's okay to break the bank in one scenario (free agency) while lessening the importance in another (draft).
The recent draft showcased that some front offices are in love with the idea of potential at the draft and then those same general managers are content to wait for the sure thing in the free agent market. The Kings will likely be unable to convince Chandler to come and play for them this offseason but they could have selected a strong interior player in the draft instead of a possible one-trick pony in Jimmer Fredette.