Tyson Chandler Is the Missing Piece LeBron James Needs in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — If coach Luke Walton’s position is in any sort of trouble, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Tuesday signing of Tyson Chandler should give Walton both job security and the missing piece of his rotation.

Chandler, who hasn’t averaged double-digit points since 2014-15 (10.3 PPG), is the exact kind of role player LeBron James and company need to compete in the Western Conference.

Starting center JaVale McGee has been tremendous through 10 games, averaging career highs with 14.4 points and 3.4 blocks. But McGee can only give Walton so many minutes; he’s currently at 26.2 a game, a sizable jump for the 30-year-old, who averaged roughly 10 minutes per contest over the previous four years.

But the Lakers didn’t get Chandler for his offense.

Los Angeles is scoring 118.9 points a game this season, among the best in the league. The bigger issue is the 120.0 it gives up.

Chandler hasn’t forgotten how to play at a high level defensively. He may not be as mobile as he was in his younger years, but he will certainly be as effective (likely more so) as Brook Lopez was last year defensively.

Additionally, Chandler is a prolific rebounder, averaging 9.1 rebounds a game in just 25.0 minutes last season and 11.5 in 27.6 the year before.

The Lakers only need Chandler to provide 10 to 20 minutes a game. Along with McGee, Walton can run out true centers defensively for most of the game. For the remaining minutes, Walton can use small-ball lineups when the Lakers have the advantage.

The addition of Chandler will pay immediate dividends. Walton will get his team to thrive with roster balance for a full 48 minutes. With Chandler alongside a talented and powerful player like James, it won’t take a lot for the Lakers to improve significantly. Chandler represents the missing ingredient as a defender and rebounder who will help the team climb up the standings.