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Which Free Agent Do You Choose: Chandler Or C.J.?

Richie Whitt, CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Sounds weird I know, but give me C.J. Wilson over Tyson Chandler.

I know the Dallas Mavericks’ center is a better player than the Texas Rangers’ pitcher. I realize he played a huge role in that parade/party we attended in Victory Park last June. And I’m fully aware his departure from the Mavs would be significantly more damaging than if Wilson leaves Arlington.

So be it.

Truth – and this hurts – is that while the Rangers are solidifying and fortifying a roster desperate to get one strike better and win a World Series in 2012 the Mavericks are apparently willing to polish their Larry O’Brien trophy for a season before jumping into the star-stocked free-agent pond next summer. Wilson can push the Rangers over the hump. Chandler’s already taken the Mavs to the top of the mountain.

While C.J. is being courted by the Rangers and Anaheim Angels, Chandler is drawing interest from several NBA teams not named the Mavericks. In fact, as training camps prepare to open on Friday Dallas seems indifferent on free agents J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Chandler.

In the wake of their first title, general manager Donnie Nelson exclaimed that he’d “like to keep the band together.” But that was then. Now?

It’s the realization that a lucrative, long-term deal to Chandler this off-season might preclude the Mavs from attempting to sign free agents like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams next summer. After this season Jason Terry will be a 35-year-old free agent. Jason Kidd will be 39 and in need of a contract. The core group from last year might indeed have been one and done.

Again, I hope we all became immersed and saturated in last summer’s championship run, because the Mavericks are an aging team at a philosophical fork in the road. And it appears they’re going to take one step backward to take two forward in the future.

I have no problem with this. Much as I appreciate what Chandler did as the defensive hub of the best team in franchise history, he ain’t worth mortgaging the future.

Says Barea of the Mavericks’ unwillingness to indeed the band members together, “It’s disappointing they’re not going to do what needs to be done to bring back the team. I want to be come back. I think the fans want me to come back. But, I don’t know.”

While Butler is visiting the Los Angeles Clippers and Chandler is courted by the Golden State Warriors, the Rangers need to keep Wilson from heading West.

General manager Jon Daniels dined last night with Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, and there are reports of a four-year, $60 million offer. There are other suitors, including the Angels, who went 59-42 in games started by Jered Weaver, Danny Haren and Ervin Santana but 27-34 in all others. Wilson is exactly what the Angels need to close the gap in the AL West. Allowing Wilson to join their biggest foe would be a double whammy to Texas.

In the end, the Rangers need Wilson to inch forward in 2012. And the Mavericks need to let Chandler escape in order to lurch ahead in 2013.

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