Should he stay or should he go: Wilson Chandler

The Denver Nuggets have a lot of decisions to make this summer.  They sport one of the deepest rosters in the league, but many players have uncertain futures due to expiring contracts or the potential to clear up positional logjams via trades.  Over the next few days we will be looking at certain players to determine who must stay, and who must go.  We began the series looking at J.R. Smith.  Today we turn to Wilson Chandler…

Chandler is too young and talented to let go
By:  Kalen

For those who haven’t already, I strongly urge you to read my recent “Dirty Laundry” article detailing the Nuggets off-season priorities, specifically No. 3, which just so happens to be re-signing Wilson Chandler. You see, when it comes to the 6-foot-8 wing-man out of DePaul, it’s in the Nuggets best interest to make sure he is on the team for at least another year. Why? Because under the current restrictions laid forth by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, restricted free agents can only be (A) re-signed by their incumbent teams on their own accord, (B) re-signed by their incumbent teams via a matching offer or (C) signed by a whole new team through the free agent market; restricted free agents cannot however star as the main feature in a sign-and-trade deal. Eventually these players can be traded, but under the current CBA teams must retain restricted free agents for exactly one year following the date in which they sign a contract offer. In essence, this prevents one team (in our case its the Nuggets) who has a restricted free agent (Wilson Chandler) from holding another team that desires that player (lets just say the Kings) hostage, while begging for assets in return. In a regular sign-and-trade deal you have two teams and a player who wants one thing from each: the contract offer from his incumbent team (since they have his Bird Rights and can offer a more lucrative deal), and the experience of playing for the other. In this scenario, no one party assumes an overwhelming amount of leverage, where as if sign-and-trades with restricted free-agents were allowed, the team who holds the players rights would also hold a lopsided amount of leverage. I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that when establishing the “restricted” clause of NBA contracts, the goal was to give player’s incumbent teams an upper hand on keeping their rosters intact, not provide them with the ability to hold their players hostage should they wish to continue their careers in a different destination. Though this is something that could change in the upcoming revision of the CBA this summer, it’s not something Nuggets fans should bank on, as its a condition that seems to work fairly well; therefore, we are faced with two options when it comes to Wilson Chandler: let him walk for nothing, or re-sign him for at least one year… and maybe much longer.

To me, the first part of this decision is obvious: We must re-sign Chandler no matter what. Letting such a young, talented player walk for nothing — especially when we have the right to match anything he’s offered — is simply illogical and goes against every framework there is for building a successful franchise. Even if we have no intention of keeping Chandler on the Nuggets roster long term, and instead elect to go with Gallinari as our primary workhorse at the small forward position, it’s imperative that we re-sign him to ensure that whenever we do decide to go our separate ways, we’ll at least have something to show for losing such a promising prospect. But that type of thinking — that it’s inevitable Chandler leaves the Nuggets to pursue a starting gig on a different squad — is something Nuggets fans shouldn’t get too acquainted with in my estimation. Though many of us see Gallinari as the future small forward of the Nuggets, there’s a chance management might feel differently. What if for example, Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke saw just as much potential in Chandler as they did Gallinari? Though unlikely, it shouldn’t sound as far-fetched as it does, because neither has definitively separated himself from the other on the court thus far as a member of the Nuggets. Expanding on this notion, what if they decide it’s really Gallinari who holds the most amount of trade value and figure we’d be better off with a defensive minded small forward to pair with offensive guys like Nene, Ty and J.R.? Why not at least explore this option? Why not bring Chandler back, tell him and Gallinari (and Al just to see the look on his face) that the starting small forward spot is open for grabs and then see what happens? It’s a win-win situation for Nuggets fans as the team will benefit from the increased competitiveness and both guys will simultaneously be driving up their trade value as well.

The real question buried beneath all the glamorous trade talk is this: Why even trade Chandler in the first place? I mean, when you have a guy as gifted and youthful as he is, who cares if you also have another one who’s better than him (though I still am not sold on Gallinari being that guy) playing his same position? In the NBA, depth is huge. If you can’t score off the bench, they you probably can’t contend come playoff time unless you’re called the Miami Heat, and even it brings some high profile guys off the pine. Really, by trading Chandler for draft picks, you’re taking a huge risk. In this potential scenario you’re gambling on an unproven prospect over an established commodity. Why even take that chance, especially when we already know Chandler is likely an 18 points per game scorer as a starter anyways? By trading him, can we really expect to land a draft pick high enough to even give us the chance of getting a better player than Chandler already is? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s hard to imagine any lottery team giving up an unprotected first rounder for Chandler anytime soon. If this is the case, why not just keep him long term? In the event that Chandler does however become disenchanted with the backup role he’d likely assume, then we should absolutely explore all trade options and hope for the best results; but in the meantime, re-signing Chandler offers no disadvantages that I can see.

Fiscal responsibility is paramount
By:  Jeremy

Wilson Chandler had a wildly inconsistent two-month stint with the Denver Nuggets. When he first arrived, Chandler looked like a poised marksman who played exceptional defense.  Just a few weeks later his poise was much less charming, his marksmanship disappeared and his defense — though still solid — was far from being considered “lockdown.”  Chandler fell from being a key cog in the offense, who was not afraid to take big shots, to a player whose shots were barely more effective than a turnover.

Over his final 14 games Chandler scored four or fewer points two more times than he scored in double digits (five to three).  Furthermore, his 3-point shooting was abysmal, as he made only six of 36 attempts. Though Chandler is a good player and still remains young enough to overcome his inconsistencies, the Nuggets do not have time to wait and find out if he can do so, as he is a restricted free agent now!  Basically,  we have to make a long-term decision based on one month of very good play, and one month of much less inspiring results.

There is no doubt that players like Chandler will make less under the new CBA, but the danger of overpaying limited players remains precarious for NBA franchises alike. Recent cases such as Sacramento overpaying Francisco Garcia and Atlanta overpaying Marvin Williams (on one hand he was the second pick in the draft, on the other they compounded their mistake by overvaluing him twice) are fresh reminders of this crippling situation. I would also include James Posey — although he is older — and Trevor Ariza in this group as well.  To be fair to Chandler, I believe he is as good or better than all of the previously mentioned players, except for James Posey in his prime. Hopefully Chandler can be that type of player, but at least Posey and Ariza have had some big playoff moments before they got paid.

Fiscal responsibility will be even more vital under a more restrictive CBA and Denver cannot start off by spending too much money on a good, but not great player in Chandler.  If the Nuggets can hang onto Chandler at a good price, they should do it; however, all it will take is one team to plop a big offer on the table and the Nuggets will be in danger of hamstringing their financial future to prevent another team from overpaying their player.

Chandler was an important part of the Carmelo trade, but not an indispensable part.  NBA teams — especially small market ones — cannot get caught up in overvaluing their players.  I do hope Chandler is back next season, but not at a price that could harm our future financial flexibility.

What say the faithful readers of Roundball Mining Company on this issue?

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  • Jackson Consiglio

    Keep Chandler and trade Gallinari because:
    -If they sign WC then they can’t trade him for a year
    – Gallinari has more market value
    – Gallinari can’t guard anyone, WC is a pretty strong defender
    – WC is more athletic

    • Ricardo

      If I had to choose between Wilson Chandler and Gallinari, I would choose Gallinari because he is another offensive weapon for the nuggets and he could also block some shots. Chandler had some ankles problems during the season and I think he is more injury prone.

  • Aurress

    You gotta keep both Chandler and Gallo…for now. Both are young and mostly unproven. Chandler needs to realize that currently, he can only be a starter on a non-playoff team. Coming off the bench is his best bet for now. And Gallo has the potential to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, and we’ve all seen what he’s doing in this year’s playoffs.

    The Nuggets are stacked with young talent and they need to retain all the youth and potential that they can right now.

  • http://espn.com Chris

    Anyways, we need to resign Chandler, keep Gallanari, and sign Deandre Jordan, put Nene at power foward, now thats a power move

  • Isaac G

    We have to keep them both for atleast one more season. Gallo is on the brink of becoming a great scorer, and despite Chandler’s poor showing in the playoffs he can still play good defense and hit a 3 every now and then. Hold on to them both for one more year and we will have this conversation again when (hopefully) one (or both) of them will have earned their keep. Too soon to get rid of anyone from the Melo deal, unless it’s Felton. He is the single worst decision maker in crunch time currently on the roster. Also MUST RE-SIGN J.R. SWISH!

  • http://espn.com Chris

    Get rid of al Harrington, hit legs are done, he has to many miles now

    • Kalen

      If we can find a team willing to take on his contract, I’d be more than willing to trade him. But we still need to see what happens with Chandler and Gallinari, because if we lose either one, Harrington is great insurance.

  • Nick

    Why have we not discussed his chronic ankle problems. WC’s ankles scare the crap out of me. He was help out of several games coming into the playoff for that very reason. He had surgery last season and had problems this season. This is a serious discussion that we need to have before we think about signing another injury risk long term.

    • Kalen

      Good point Nick. That’s definitely something to consider going forward.

  • http://bigleaguewiffleball.com/ Jon L.

    Chandler is a definite keep and so is Gallo. They are both young and still have some developing to do. As long as the Nuggets can sign another big man, they will have a bright future.

  • Josh

    Didn’t we get K-Mart (a restricted free agent at the time) through a sign and trade? Have the rules changed since 2004?

    • Kalen

      Yeah Josh, that was the case. I’m not sure exactly what happened in that situation though.

      • Kalen

        OK, so I just heard that the restricted free agent rules changed in 2006, so that’s probably what allowed K-Mart to be part of a sign-and-trade.

  • Rob

    I go back and forth on ILL Will, should he stay or should he go. I find myself more inclined to agree with Jeremy on this one because at the moment the Nuggets still have the 22nd pick in a draft that is the strongest at the 3 and 4 positions. The Nuggets can save money long term by drafting a player to play behind Gallo. Instead of making Gallo and Chandler split minutes.

    Another factor in all of this is his desire to be in Denver, it seems like he had one foot out of the door before he even put the uniform on.

    Something else to consider is the pf position. If Kmart walks and I suspect that he will, and GK doesn’t slide Nene to the 4 spot (assuming he is brought back), would the money that would be spent on resigning Chandler be better suited going to a pf free agent. I know the field of choices is limited, but there are still a couple of decent options that will be on the open market.

  • DHinNYC

    Hahah. Jeremy you’re like the Tea Party Express of NBA bloggers.

    I don’t see why we should blow up this team. It preformed well under tough circumstances and can improve with a full year together and hopefully a solid new big man earning some of K-Mart’s money.

    I say keep J.R., keep Chandler and keep Galo.

  • Andrew

    It’s pretty clear the Nuggets should sign Chandler for a reasonable deal to keep his value (for future trade), but I am not sold on him as a player at all. When I watched him, his D seemed very average and his O obviously left him in the playoffs. How many players have there been that have shrunk in their initial playoffs but then went on to be awesome playoff players? I can’t think of any….can anyone else? I think he would be a good role player on a championship team, but so would practically all of the current Nuggets. Sign him, play him for a year and then trade him for value.

  • JC

    sign sum good free agents like david west deandre jordan the see what u can get for wilson

  • Aussie Nugs Fan

    To me our two most important players are Ty and Gallo (23 and 22yrs old), they are both already really good and who knows how good they could both be at their peak!

    Nene at 28 is probably our third most important player. I do want to keep him because I think our team can definitely be a top 4 side in the west next season.

    I don’t get to see that many nuggets games so I am genuinely wondering…

    Why can’t Gallo play PF ala Dirk Nowitzki?

    Then you can keep both him and Wilson and play them both starters minutes?

    • Kalen

      Can Gallo play PF? Yes, absolutely. But I’m not sure how good of an idea it is to play him extended minutes there because our rebounding would likely take a huge hit in production. We’re already a weak rebounding team, so I’m not sure how more of a decrease we can take in that department without suffering the consequences. For short stretches of the game when Karl does small ball, it could work though.

  • Ricardo

    Nene, Arron Afflalo, and Wilson Chandler gets re-signed. Probably let go of Kenyon Martin, Raymond Felton, and J.R. Smith. In the draft, the nuggets gets a point guard/shooting guard to play coming off the bench. And in free agency, they get a better power forward to come off the bench that could rebound well. And Timofey Mosgov plays more minutes and Nene plays more as a power forward. If the nuggets do these things, they should be a great team next season.

  • Seth

    i have a strong feeling the nuggets are gonna match any offer for chandler because coming off the bench he can be very explosive. dont have the greatest feeling of jr and k-mart coming back if that doesnt happen have nene move to Pf have Mozgov play starters minutes because he is a great rebounder and post player. Draft a good SG (marshon brooks) and perhaps sign Deandre Jordan, challenge him and mozgov for the starting center position. if we do that we can be a very explosive team.

  • Don

    Send WC back home to NYC where he belongs!!!!! NYC forever!!!!!

  • Slader

    I agree with Ricardo, comment 14. Nuggets have started turning the page and must finish the job.
    I like Chandler as 6th man, backing both Gallo and AAA. Off the bench Bird can bring the electricity, Chandler can play the cool killer. If they trade Felton they will need to find a quality back-up PG, even of they choose Nolan Smith, Reggie Jackson or Charles Jenkins at n.22.