Wilson Chandler Sets Deadline for Nuggets
Denver Nuggets’ free agent Wilson Chandler finds himself in a unique position after returning from his stint in China. The 24-year-old is a restricted free agent, but he doesn’t have many options. He can no longer sign an offer sheet with another team since the deadline to do so was on March 1. He can’t be traded because the new collective bargaining agreement now outlaws midseason sign-and-trades.
That means Chandler has two options when it comes to his NBA future. Chandler will either sign with the Denver Nuggets now or sit out the remainder of the 2011-12 season and enter restricted free agency in July, when more teams have money to spend. Chris Luchey, Chandler’s agent, continues to negotiate with Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke.
“These negotiations have been tough because the situation is so different,” Luchey told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s really unique. This has never happened before.”
Chandler would like to sign a one-year deal with the Nuggets, but Denver’s front office has no interest in that kind of contract because the small forward would become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Nuggets don’t want to lose their ability to match any offer that Chandler receives so the two sides will either work out a long-term deal or put off negotiations until July.
“He can sign a one-year deal with Denver, but they’ve been adamant they’re not going to do that,” Luchey said. “It was easy for J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin to sign when they came back from China because they were unrestricted free agents. Wilson only has a couple of options.”
While the unique situation has made negotiations rather difficult, Chandler and Luchey aren’t giving up on signing a long-term deal with the Nuggets. They arrived in Denver over the weekend to resume talks with Ujiri and Kroenke. If the two sides cannot work out a deal by Friday, March 16, Chandler will sit out the remainder of the NBA season and likely sign with another overseas team.
“The Nuggets have a nine-game home stand so Wilson and I are here to try to work out a deal,” Luchey said. “We looked at the schedule and noticed this stretch. Wilson wanted to come here and give this a real valiant effort. We want to try to get something done. We’re here until Friday and the Nuggets play on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Wilson and I will be here for all of those games. Masai and I will resume talks either tonight after the game or first thing tomorrow morning. We’ll see if we can get something done.”
If the two sides can’t reach a deal this week, Chandler has other options.
“Wilson has the option of going overseas to Italy or another place in Europe,” Luchey said. “That is realistic, but his plan has always been to come back and play in the NBA. I’ve received calls from nine teams besides the Denver Nuggets, saying they’d be interested in Wilson this summer if he waited and entered restricted free agency in July. He knows that option is there, but we’re still hoping to work out a deal with the Nuggets. We’ve been communicating with the Nuggets since the lockout ended. We’ve had very good meetings between myself, Wilson, Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke. When he returned from China, he landed in Atlanta and then went straight to Denver. That has always been the preference.”
Chandler will be working out in Denver so that he’s ready to play immediately, should he agree to terms with the team.
“Wilson’s personal trainer, Rodney Heard, is also here in Denver,” Luchey said. “We’re all here at the Four Seasons and Wilson has been working out every day. Wilson is working out here to get used to the air and weather again. That way, if we consummate a deal in the next three or four days, he’ll be ready to play. If we reach a deal tomorrow morning, he can segue into practice and then play on Tuesday.”
“With Wilson being here and spending time with the team, I feel very confident that the Nuggets will lock him up long-term,” Luchey said. “We’d like a five-year deal. This year will count as one so it’s really a four-and-a-half-year deal.”
Chandler’s stint in China helped him improve several aspects of his game. While he left Zhejiang Guangsha prior to the start of the postseason, he spent several months there and returns to the NBA ready to contribute right away.
“Wilson is in great shape,” Luchey said. “He played over 30 games in China and he’s already went through a strenuous preseason. He arrived in China on September 18, before any other import. He was there six weeks before the season started, doing a two-a-days in China to prepare for the season. He’s in great shape and went through the season without an injury. He looks good and he’s gotten better. I think people will see a better player because he played the triangle system for former Lakers coach Jim Cleamons. Wilson was starting the offense and his ball handling has improved drastically. He has abilities now that he didn’t have last season.”
When Chandler will be able to display those abilities remains to be seen. In the next five days, we’ll know what the future holds for Chandler.