Nuggets News: Preparing for Wilson Chandler

On Saturday the Denver Nuggets chose to waive DeMarre Carroll, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. With next Tuesday’s deadline that demands all NBA contracts become guaranteed and Wilson Chandler still not re-signed, waiving Carroll was the simplest way to ensure a roster spot remains open for Chandler upon his return to the NBA sometime in the near future.

The next month is going to be extremely telling for the identity of the 2011-2012 Denver Nuggets, and in turn, whether Denver chooses to keep Wilson Chandler or explore sign-and-trade options. Of all the future opponents the Nuggets will face throughout the month of February, only two teams are currently more than one game below .500 (with the Timberwolves sitting at 11-12 and on the rise as we speak). Should Denver struggle — which at this point appears likely — there’s a good chance management will be influenced to try and re-sign Chandler in order boost the Nuggets depth and talent level even more. However, there are a few key factors outside of “win total” that Denver will heavily weigh in the decision-making process before reaching a conclusion regarding where to go with Chandler.

First and foremost, the Nuggets need to figure out how open Wilson Chandler is to the idea of playing a backup role behind Danilo Gallinari and more than likely, Arron Afflalo. Even if the Nuggets are able to give Chandler the type of money he desires, and deserves, there’s still a large possibility that starting on an NBA team is just as important to him as receiving the type of contract that truly reflects his talent level.

The second biggest factor in determining where Chandler ends up playing ball for the next handful of years in the NBA is, in all likelihood, Stan Kroenke. Though son and current president of the Nuggets, Josh Kroenke, is undoubtedly calling his fair share of shots these days, in reality it’s Papa Kroenke that has the final say on all financial dealings that occur within the Nuggets organization, including the team payroll. As of right now the Nuggets are sitting roughly $1 million under the salary cap. Should Chandler re-sign with the Nuggets his contract would put the team well over the cap which would force Kroenke to pony up quite a bit of his own cash in order to comply with league regulations of paying one dollar for every dollar your team is over the cap threshold. Even with the Nuggets sitting near the apex of the Western Conference’s elite, you have to wonder how willing Kroenke will be to paying a hefty sum of his own hard-earned cash for a team that struggles to win games resembling those they will surely see come playoff time.

Finally, depth, financial flexibility and playing time moving forward will need to be strongly considered by the Nuggets before committing to Chandler long term. As was written by Charlie several days back, the Nuggets are already facing issues with the copious amount of depth on the roster. Adding yet another wing player who deserves 30 minutes per night will only exacerbate whatever current problems the Nuggets are facing. Though Chandler would without question pose as a significant upgrade to the Nuggets second unit, it’s worth noting that Denver (if it chooses) already has three talented small forwards locked up through at least the 2015-16 season with Corey Brewer also on the books until the end of next year. Between Nene, Gallinari, Afflalo and Harrington alone the Nuggets have roughly $37 million on the books for next year and this isn’t even taking into account Koufos, Andersen, Stone, Faried, Hamilton, Mozgov Brewer and the money the Nuggets will need to pay Ty Lawson in order to retain his services for the foreseeable future. Including Gallinari’s contract, the Nuggets are set to distribute close to $55 million to 12 different players next year, with the cap likely coming down or remaining about the same.

Considering all the factors mentioned above, as much as the Nuggets may want to re-sign Chandler, it’s difficult to see this idea coming to fruition. The Nuggets simply do not have the cap room, roster flexibility nor minutes in the current rotation to add yet another wing scorer to the equation. Though it is possible to re-sign Chandler — by using the amnesty provision on Andersen which would free up much-needed cap room — it must remain absolutely imperative that the Nuggets┬ámove beyond loyalty and think ahead for the future, especially in regards to roster construction and possible missing links that will still need to be conjured up in the coming years. In the present scenario, it just doesn’t make sense to hand out yet another bulky contract to a wing man when the Nuggets are already committed to three small forwards for the next four seasons.

Keep in mind that, if for some reason, Chandler truly wants to return to Denver, the Nuggets will not hesitate to make it happen. Masai Ujiri’s track record (including his scheduled meeting with Chandler in China) has proven he’s a “players” general manager who likes to establish friendly relationships with his clientele and, evident by the more recent free agency period, believes in re-signing his own players above all else. Ujiri and Josh Kroenke know Chandler is young, talented and improving and certainly will not see re-signing him as a move in the wrong direction (after all, some assets are better than no assets); however, the best basketball decision — which at this point in the game should reign supreme in the decision-making process — is to move Chandler for draft picks or possibly a big man that could come in to Denver and start immediately.

The Toronto Raptors are reportedly set on making “life hard” for the Nuggets when it comes to re-signing Chandler, according to HoopsWorld.com. In the scenario which Chandler is to re-sign in Denver, the last thing the Nuggets need is another team willing to drive up the asking price for his services. Denver simply cannot afford to overpay Chandler, no way no how. That said, it’s crucial Denver refrains from showing any inkling of reluctance to shell out the pretty penny it might very well take to get Chandler back in a powder blue uniform. This will ensure Toronto doesn’t get the vibe that Denver is desperate to make a deal which should keep most of their top flight assets on the table.

Above all else, Denver must look to “steal” Toronto’s first-round pick in this year’s draft if at all possible. This should be, without question, the centerpiece of the deal from Denver’s perspective. The upcoming 2012 draft is littered with the types of franchise-changing players Denver is in desperate need of and when playing ESPN’s Lottery Mock Draft, the Raptors (as projected by their current record) come out in the top 10 nearly every time, often landing inside the top five. Though the Raptors would likely be reluctant to part with such a potentially impressive asset, the Nuggets could sweeten the deal by offering up their first-rounder along with a second-round pick (Denver has two this year) and additional players from their roster if necessary.

In order to make salaries match the Nuggets will likely have to consider taking on the contracts of either Amir Johnson or Leandro Barbosa (whom the Raptors are reportedly willing to shop), depending on how many other players get included. It would of course help if Toronto would somehow commit to taking on Chris Andersen in the process, as it would rid the Nuggets of perhaps its worst current contract on the books. Unfortunately, to make this happen Johnson’s lengthy contract would also have to be absorbed by Denver which would essentially negate that move all together, however its important to keep in mind how much younger (24 as apposed to 33) offensively talented and capable of playing heavy minutes Johnson is compared to the Birdman at this point. Ideally, if Toronto would accept Chandler and a first and second-round pick from Denver in exchange for Barbosa and their unprotected first-round pick in this year’s draft, the Nuggets will have had it made. If Toronto demands more Denver can always consider throwing in Jordan Hamilton or another future first-round pick being that the Nuggets aren’t in debt in this aspect of the franchise.

Though it does indeed seem illogical for Toronto to give up their lottery pick in what’s perceived as the best draft since 2003, keep in mind just how desperate the Raptors are for a small forward and how willing general managers are to obtain the assets they covet most. Last year for example, the Clippers traded away what turned out to be the No. 1 pick in the draft just so they could banish Baron Davis’ undesirable contract, which in the end could have simply been amnestied at no charge (other than paying his salary) had they waiting nine more months for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to kick in. Bottom line: Never underestimate the cost a team is willing to pay in order to obtain whatever it desires most.

Links

In case you haven’t heard, Kenyon Martin agreed to terms with the Clippers for a few million dollars recently.

ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh breaks down a lot of the things we discuss on a daily basis here at Roundball Mining Company (INsider).

John Schuhmann of NBA.com has a great piece with all sorts of video analysis on the potency of Denver’s offensive attack.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.
  • chronosynclastic infundibula

    I disagree. Having a strong 6th man for the forseeable future is far more important than going fishing in the draft for spare parts of which Karl wouldn’t play anyway. Al Harrington and Adre Miller have been wonderful this year, but they won’t be here for much longer. Chandler should be one of the core guys of this team. Brewer is not good enough to replace Chandler. Chandler brings great one on one and help defense plus he is a better jump shooter than any other Nugget aside from Al Harrington. The FO has already committed to Gallo, AAA, and Nene. The remaining peices are Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler and hopefully Faried.

    • Kalen

      Harrington is our sixth man, and likely will be for a while considering the Nuggets have the option to have him locked down till 2015.

      • chronosynclastic infundibula

        I just don’t see Harrington continuing to play at such a high level past this year. I hope I’m wrong, I think Al is great sixth man this season but I don’t see him as the long term solution.

        • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html sgiustra

          There is no real conflict between Al and Will. Even if Al continues his excellent play, Will could still sub for Nene, Gallo or AAA.

          Frankly, with our injury habit, dont be surprised if Will starts at any position from 2 to 4.

  • chronicnugs

    speaking of commitments… if i read the box of tonights game correctly, AAA and Nene combined for 4 POINTS, 4 REBOUNDS and 1 ASSIST in nearly 48 (combined) minutes of play. Curious as to why we got smoked? We’re paying them (combined) max money. The Nene contract is fatty but he has given what you would expect. To call the AA resigning anything but a mistake at this point would be naive. I love me some AAA but this resigning has been a failure up to this point.

    • chronicnugs

      pardon my redundancy.

      • Ayo

        Completely agreed, it seriously stings that he isn’t a star player by now, we need him to start acting like the money we’re paying him.

    • Kalen

      Yeah Nene and Afflalo didn’t have their best games against the Blazers, but lets keep in mind that the season is still young, Afflalo is booked to a multi-year contract and he’s currently battling injuries.

      • chronicnugs

        the season isnt young, kalen.

  • LobCityCP3

    chandler please just go to the knicks

  • FinazzAus

    I really don’t think chandler wants to play a bench roll. He disliked being stuck behind gallo last year and even know he would still receive the same minutes as a starter I can’t see him being happy coming off the bench. The S&T and our first round pick for a lottery pick is our best move. My only worrier is that chandler won’t want to play for Toronto. But lucky for us there are more team in the same position as Toronto.
    Question: if a trade is done which involves Amir Johnson are Denver allowed to amnestied him?

    • Kalen

      No, you cannot trade for a player then use the amnesty clause on them. That’s why trading for Johnson is not a good idea. He’s talented and young, and the Nuggets do need a center, but his contract is hideous.

  • Desean

    I wanna say I’m a massive Wilson chandler fan. But I think he may have missed the boat when it comes to the chance to start for Denver. If he had of played early in the season he would have had an opportunity to outplay gallo.

    I still wanna keep him but if we got a package like you outlined which included a lottery pick and barbosa it would be impossible to resist and as hard as it seems to achieve this deal I wouldnt put it past Ujiri.

    I get extremely excited about the prospect of adding leandro barbosa to Denver as a jr smith style scoring punch. Imagine having 3 top ten 6th man of the year candidates on one bench?

    I trust Masai Ujiri will make the right move and not force a trade or severely overpay and as you said, players seem to want to play for him

    • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html sgiustra

      I’m a huge fan of Will too but there is no reason for a choice between Gallo and Will.

      Will should come off the bench not because Gallo is better (though I think he is) but because Gallo can only play one position while Will could play 3.

      Will could sub for Gallo, Nene or AAA and get lots of minutes, even starter minutes.

  • Nigel

    A sign-and-trade will be more than helpful. To many Nuggets who haven’t heard yet, I read an article here long ago that Wil and Gallo tend to be like oil and water – They can’t play together and when they’re both on the court, they ruin the offense. In order to win, though, we need an already proven big man which has been the problem of the Nuggets this decade.

    I say this should be a trade:

    Wilson Chandler
    Chris Andersen
    Jordan Hamilton
    in exchange for:
    Linas Kleiza
    Gary Forbes
    Leandro Barbosa

    And why? With ‘Melo long gone and Kleiza returning, he could finally provide the talent we fans used to see from him on a nightly basis. Gary Forbes was still underrated in his stint in Toronto as was shown in his MPG. Believe it or not, I think he thrived in Karl’s system where he showed flashes of his old self when he was in UMass. Leandro Barbosa is I think a good rotation guy in case Andre Miller plays bad. And if Miller plays bad because he can’t run with the other guys, Leandro could step and speed up the offense back just like his days in Phoenix.

    Now, isn’t that a good trade?

    • steve

      actually, no i dont think it’s a good trade. We have Al who is very similar to Kleiza. Remember we replaced him with Al when he left. WHy have 2 tweener sf/pf that basically shoot from the perimeter for the most part? I like barbosa’s expiring deal and forbes is a decent back up but i think hes signed for 2 more years after this.

      yes i love getting rid of birdman, but you basically take over kleizas contract which is the same. plus get rid of a talented rookie in hamilton for forbes who is nothing more than a 10th man off our bench.

      i said before that a trade of ed davis for chandler would work. We would get a 6’10 big man who fits our system and adds the size we need who is also extremely young to the mix.

      id loooove their 1st round pick but i cant see them adding it. maybe if we sweetened the deal, but sitll dont know if that would work. how awesome would it be to land the 5th or 6th pick in the draft and get Thomas Robinson 6’9 PF from Kansas? He’s the perfect big man for our system. hes like a poor mans blake griffin. or heck, maybe even Drummond. Doubt these guys fall past 5 but u just neveeeer know! :) Fun to think about.

      • Kalen

        What I forgot to include was the possibility of making the pick protected. If it was, say, top 5 protected, then the Raptors might be a lot more willing to go through with the trade. And the thing is, it wouldn’t matter quite as much. The top 5 players in this draft are going to be really good pros, but as of this moment, Davis is about the only sure-fire guy who has the chance to be great. For about the next 10 picks after that, there are players who are about the same talent level. If we could land Robinson, Lamb, Jones, Sullinger, Henson or Beal the Nuggets would have made out like bandits.

        • http://tskitishvillainy.tumblr.com/ TskitishVilllainy

          The thing about the draft is that there really are no assurances. I see stars in this draft (Barnes, Davis, Jones III) and solid starters (Sullinger, Kidd-Gilchrist) but again a lot of these guys play either the 3 or the 4, where Denver is log-jammed.

          I would really prefer moving Chandler and maybe Nene for a solid starting big man.

          Trade:
          Nene/Chandler/Fernandez for KG/Pietrus/ 1st rd pick
          Nene/Chandler/ Miller for Horford/ Hinrich/ Marvin Williams

          But, a top-5 pick from Toronto, even if it is protected this year may be a steal for an otherwise dispensable player.

    • Desean

      Ew this is a bad trade, giving up too much . Chandler is arguably better and obviously is younger with way more upside, same goes for Jordan Hamilton and kleiza’s contract is pretty much as bad as birds.

      Are you trying to make us a complete international team, trading three Americans for three internationals?

      • Nigel

        I’m smelling racism here, you….. Our SF of the future is not Hamilton, it’s Gallo. Our SG of the Future is not Hamilton, it’s Afflalo or Brewer. Time will come J-Ham will bring that starter-issues again that make the front office jack up a trade. They’re great players, and you’re doing just classic discrimination. PERIOD.

    • FinazzAus

      Your clearly a toronto fan. Worst trade eva

      • Nigel

        Oh, man! How stupid can you get? The problem in this team besides winning is the money, stupid. Just because the trade seems bias to a tea like the Raptors doesn’t mean I’m a fan of ‘em. Denver’s losing money because of Afflalo and Nene’s corrupt contract and there’s a reason why we should trade a potentially overpaid player for some “good” players. I think none of you has understood Forbes’ talent so far. Believe this: first-round picks become busts if not given the right playing time. Example: Koufos

  • Dom

    J.R Smith could be a good option

  • http://www.swag.com Gerardo

    George Karl needs to go we will never win a title with him!!! But anyways we should just keep Chandler what’s the point of trading him for picks if Karl doesn’t play rookies? And amir Johnsons contract is horrible..

    • Nigel

      Definitely! Karl is a Hall-of-Famer coach but we just can’t win a title with his philosophy. Next, we should trade Chandler not for picks but for players. I’m doubting that he could return because we overpaid Nene and Afflalo, leaving no sufficient money for him. I think Ed Davis could be the fitting big man we really need in the trade.

  • jc

    i think denver should trade wilson chandler birdman and jham and 2 secend rounders for ed davis and a first round pick

    • jc

      and i know this is probley not possible but resign jr smith the 2 has been terrrible for denver this year

  • Aaron

    I Wish We Would Of Cut “Birdman” Instead.

  • Andrew

    I am in the minority here, but I am not a huge Chandler fan. I just do not think he is a gamer and would just as soon trade him while he has value. I like the toronto trade idea. I really like most of the nuggs other pieces, but I agree with the folks who say the nuggs will never win a championship with Karl. Like the man and regular season coach, dislike the playoff coach.

  • Trevor

    Chandler for Toronto’s 1st round pick sounds great to me. Acquiring a star through the draft is Denver’s best path to a Championship. Galo is 2nd and Lawson is a 3rd scoring option on a champ caliber team. We have 5-7 reliable 4th scoring options, this is where our depth and regular season success comes from. Drafting an true impact player makes this team a force to close this decade out. Rookie contracts are the only way to compile the amount of talent to contend outside of Miami’s and LAL’s shenanigans.

  • nugzin2040

    A couple comments:

    Teams do not have to pay a dollar per dollar amount if they are over the salary cap. They have to pay a dollar for every dollar if they are over the luxury tax. Signing Chandler, would not effect that for this season.

    Secondly, sign-and-trades are not legal mid-season under the new collective bargaining agreement. A sign and trade deal cannot happen, until the off-season.

    As it stands, I see only three possible outcomes:

    1. Chandler’s team is eliminated before March 1st. He is unhappy with contracts proposed in Denver and elsewhere–takes the qualifying offer, making him unrestricted the next season.

    2. Chandler’s team is still playing in March, and thus he cannot sign the qualifying offer as it is illegal past that date. He decides to take a contract from the Nuggets or another team.

    3. Same thing as #2 but rather then signing a contract, Chandler decides to not play in the NBA near the end of the season, and rather to test free agency again the following off-season. Denver would retain their right to match an offer in free agency.