After many days where rumors regarding Wilson Chandler’s possible overseas excursion to Italy bubbled atop the NBA landscape, a decision by the 6-8 small forward to play overseas was finally made that sent shockwaves across the basketball universe. On Aug. 29, 2011, Wilson Chandler officially signed a one-year contract to play with the Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association, and with that, his future as a Denver Nugget has been put on hold until at least April of next year.
(In each episode of Nuggets News I’ve experimented with a few different types of layouts. Although I have previously written mostly paragraph form, going from one Web story to another, I’ll be tweaking that format this time around, and possibly more in the future in the attempt to make this series of updates more organized and easy to read. Bare with me until I figure out the best way to present this very urgent, and important news. Feel free to comment on what you think works best.)
Wilson Chandler was on the verge of signing with Olimpia Milano in Italy, as recent as Aug. 26. Though many reliable news organizations reported this to be a done deal at one point in time, it never quite made it to the final stage of the negotiation process, yet the consensus remained that Chandler would still reach an agreement with Milano sometime in the near future because of the advanced the conversations had progressed. Like all other established NBA players heading overseas, Chandler was in discussions with his foreign team to include an opt-out clause in the event the 2011-12 NBA season got underway sooner than anticipated.
Fast-forward to Aug. 29 and Chandler has singed to play in China — of all places. Rather than chose from a variety of different situations in Europe with much better competition, Chandler has agreed to play in the one place audacious enough to proclaim that no NBA player should even consider going to unless they plan on signing a contract with no opt-out clause, essentially guaranteeing their services to one residence outside the US for an entire year.
Chandler knew this. Why he continued on with negotiations, ultimately signing a contract under these circumstances is anybody’s guess. However, there are some intriguing aspects to this development.
Several days ago I began writing Nuggets News 4.0 when I came across a few storylines regarding Chandler’s interest in signing with Olimpia Milano that made me stop, and think for a moment, before I continued on with my research. This initially happened after I stumbled upon some Gallinari stories — right after I was finished reading countless articles on Chandler’s near-signing situation with Olimpia Milano keep in mind. Below is what I had posted for the first section of Gallinari’s segment in Nuggets News 4.0:
Danilo Gallinari has expressed interest in re-joining the aforementioned Olimpia Milano… but only for practice. Gallo will be playing for Italy in the upcoming Eurobasket tournament, and is apparently looking for somewhere to train, but clearly doesn’t understand the term “contract” just yet. Nevertheless, once Eurobasket concludes Gallo will be a free agent, and there’s a strong possibility that he re-signs with Olimpia Milano considering the many historic connections the two share from years past.
The last sentence was the kicker. You know when you hear a story from someone that just doesn’t add up, and you can start to feel your brain bouncing off the sides of your skull, almost as if it was running back and fourth, making commotion specifically to get your attention, just to open up a door, peer outside, look you in the face and say, “Hey dumbass, does this really make a lot of sense?!?!” That’s kind of how I felt after reading rumors that Gallinari would strongly consider re-signing with his old Italian team — the exact same one his teammate and backup in Denver would be signing with. So, continuing on with the “My Take” feature I implemented in the last version of Nuggets News, I had this to say about this issue:
My Take: It seems Wilson Chandler simply can’t escape Gallinari’s shadow. A starting small forward on roughly 70 percent of NBA rosters, Chandler unfortunately found himself victim to Gallinari’s high draft pick position while with the Knicks, then continued his second-fiddle role after being traded to the Nuggets just prior to the February trade deadline of last season. In most cases, traveling half way around the world would isolate you from anybody you wanted to create a distance from, but not Chandler. Maybe that’s why contract negotiations between him and Milano have stalled.
And stall they did. In fact, not only have negotiations stalled, they’ve completely deteriorated. That distance halfway around the world, has now turned into a near-circumnavigation of planet Earth. Not only is Wilson Chandler now thousands of miles away from the Denver Nuggets home base in Lower Downtown Denver, he’s basically that same distance from Milan, Italy, as well.
Coincidence? You be the judge. But my intuition tells me there was something more to Wilson Chanlder’s sudden change of heart than an insatiable urge for fried rice. Remember, Gallinari was liked to Milano only after the news broke about Wilson Chandler potentially signing there. Something tells me Chandler didn’t want to be teammates with Gallinari for a third time a row; in other words, something tells me Chandler didn’t want to backup Gallinari three times in a row.
But that’s just me.
Still, with the connection made above, I’m left to wonder: Why China? What triggered Chandler to feel compelled to forgo an entire season in the NBA? Yes, we all know the lockout appears ominous, but how can you abondon hope that easily? And more importantly, why was Chandler so willing to be the first one to venture this untraveled route?
While contemplating this idea I’m again met by that old familiar feeling — you know, the one described above where your brain takes on a life of it’s own, forces it’s way out of your cranial cavity, only to hang down below your eyes and ask (best if done done in a New York accent), “Hey! Don’t make me do this again! Capiche?! You know there’s more than what meets the eye here!”
So, although I’m certainly nobody’s conspiracy theorist, I do listen to my brain once again. Apprehensive about over analyzing the issue, I’m careful, but I simply can’t get past the idea that Chandler knowingly left his team while under contract without signing an opt-out clause, especially when nothing’s set in stone with how long the lockout is going to last. This just isn’t something you do on a whim — which is what appears to be the case — simply because you were feeling extra spunky that day. This is something you plan out, and take a lot of time evaluating so that you make the right decision. Yet, how is bailing on your NBA team for an entire season the right decision? I just don’t get it! This is the type of thing Stephon Marbury would do, not Wilson Chandler! Right?! Right!?!?
Then again… there’s a good chance my brain is just a little crazy, and as a result I might be overreacting.
Maybe Wilson Chandler really did just want a total change of pace. Maybe he really believes this lockout is gonna get uglier than anybody ever thought. Maybe he just wants to finally break away from Gallo’s shadow, and be the star for once! You can’t blame him for that right? And if this is the case, then I applaud Chandler — softly, but I still applaud, because as Mark Jackson would say, “That’s a grown man move!”
(Now on to the rest of Nuggets News 4.0, sticking with Wilson Chandler…)
Joining fellow teammates Ty Lawson and Al Harrington, Chandler has now been initiated into the club of “Nuggets Who Have Hosted a Nightclub Event During the Lockout,” by MCing at the 400 Club in Miami on Saturday, Aug. 27, alongside the one and only, “Blac Chyna.” If this trend continues, at some point in time Roundball will need to dive into an investigative journalism piece on whether the Nuggets will continue playing in the NBA post-lockout or instead take a full-time gig as an MC/nightclub host. If the lockout perpetuates, I fear the latter.
My Take: I genuinely wonder how many other NBA players from different teams are hosting events like this. One thing I do know is that Mozgov ain’t gonna be one of them. I ran into him at the Denver Aquarium last year and asked, as he stood by the stingray tank, if he has a lot of them (stingrays) in Russia. He didn’t blink, and just stared at me for about five seconds. Luckily, Gallo was standing next to him, laughed and whispered something in his ear, then he confidently turned back to me with a stone-cold stare and said, “Of course… I’m from Russia.” Needless to say, if you speak broken English and you’re only tagline is, “Of course, I’m from Russia,” you probably won’t get you too far as the host of an American nightclub alongside Blac Chyna.
Danilo Gallinari was named MVP of the Acropolis Tournament in Athens, Greece, after leading his team to the title.
My Take: This is obviously great news to hear. You can firmly count me in the camp of people who remain somewhat skeptic about all the hype surrounding the “Italian Stallion,” but with achievements like this, I’m slowly turning into a believer.
Al Harrington recently “knocked out” a reporter who interviewed him regarding his MMA endeavors. No, no, no — he didn’t get furiously angry at some inappropriate question, which in turn channeled all that newly-acquired testosterone swimming through his body that diving head first into MMA training usually conjures up; instead, the reporter willingly entered “the Octagon” with Big Al, only to crumble upon receiving the first blow thrown his way. It’s debatable whether the knockout was a result of pure brunt force, or instead merely an act; either way, I don’t think Al’s impressing the Mixed Martial Arts world by taking it to a 5-7 out-of-shape reporter.
You can also find Al hanging out with monkeys this off-season.
That said, according to Jonathan Givony of Roundball-favorite DraftExpress.com, Al looks much “leaner” and “quicker” than last season. Overall, Givony said he “looks good” right now.
My Take: Anybody remember the show “Shaq Vs.”? If you’re unfamiliar or have forgotten, here’s the link to the Wikipedia page. Essentially, during the off-season (I’m assuming, but knowing Shaq he probably did this stuff between games), the geniuses at ABC thought up another life-changing reality TV show that starred Shaq taking on some of the best athletes in the world in their specified professions. This is what I feel Al Harrington’s summer has turned into, minus the multi-million dollar TV contract. Yes ladies and gentlemen, he’s still failing, (Shaq’s all time record is 2-11-1) but he’s just not getting paid for it.
Timofey Mozgov was recently named the 306th best player in the NBA according to ESPN. I guess that’s what throwing a behind-the-back pass overseas will get you these days.
My Take: Mozgov is pretty much pure awesomeness and I don’t think that’s any secret. This lockout could actually be the best thing that ever happened to his NBA career, as he’ll likely be much more comfortable as a player after spending more time back home in an invoronment in which he’s actually one of the best guys around.
Jordan Hamilton was recently profiled in an aticle by Sam Amick of SI.com. This is the Nuggets News “Read of the Week,” which is basically our way of saying, “If there’s one link you click on during this entire read, make sure it’s this one.” (Although the Blac Chyna link is tempting.) Amick goes more in-depth than any journalist has yet with the young wing, even including Youtube videos of J-Ham with his family.
My Take: Hamilton truly seems like a good kid at heart. From everything I’ve heard and read, all I can say is that his intentions appear to be pure. The article mentions that Hamilton will likely suite up at shooting guard (0r at least that’s where Ujiri and George have expressed they want him), which is what I’ve expected all along due to his extended range. Even with Chandler now overseas for a year, I still don’t see Hamilton playing small forward that much while Al and Gallo are still in Denver. If J.R. Smith re-signs, things could potentially get interesting as the Nuggets would have one hell of a logjam at the two wing positions going forward.
Gary Forbes is keeping a diary of his preparation for the FIBA Americas Championship for SLAM Magazine. Keep an eye out for future articles from Forbes as this is a series, and not just a one-time deal.
My Take: As always, Forbes keeps it classy. Of all the guys on the Nuggets roster, Forbes might be the smartest and most benevolent as well. I really feel that with a couple more years in the NBA under his belt Forbes could be an extremely solid backup shooting guard in the NBA, and I’d certainly like to see this come to fruition while with the Nuggets.