Wilson Chandler to the Rescue? [Updated]

Upon hearing the news that Danilo Gallinari experienced more than just an ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets and might miss one month every Nuggets’ fan response was, “When can Wilson Chandler get here?”

As everyone who cares about the Nuggets knows, Wilson Chandler chose to sign a contract to play in China despite the lack of an opt-out clause which would allow him to return to the N.B.A. should the lockout end prior to the cancelation of the 2011-12 season.

Projections for Chandler’s availability have ranged from March to April.  The way I understand it, Chandler will be freed from his service to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions as soon as their season ends.  While the truth is that could be anywhere between February 15 and sometime in April, there is an ever so slight chance that the Lions season could end on the fifteenth.

Eight of the 17 teams in the Chinese Basketball Association make the playoffs.  Right now despite Chandler’s average nightly output of 26.0 points and 11.3 rebounds Guangsha is ninth.  If they fail to move up into the top eight, their season will be over in eight days.  If that happens, it is certainly possible Chandler could be playing for the Nuggets before the All-Star break.  Guangsha is 6-9

(Editors note:  The initial version of this post included a few paragraphs on how Chandler would sign the Qualifying Offer and become an Unrestricted Free Agent after the season.  Charlie found out from Larry Coon that Qualifying Offers had to be signed by December 25, 2011.  Thus the next couple of paragraphs are inaccurate.  I will leave them up though so you can all enjoy how dumb I am.  Coon assures us that he will have an article up on this very topic tomorrow.)

Kalen provided some projections as to what might happen to Chandler upon his release from China .  The fact that the Qualifying Offer is in place makes him a Restricted Free Agent, but he cannot actually sign the Qualifying Offer.  That means the following options are on the table.

1.  Chandler can sign a long term deal with Denver.

2.  Chandler can sign an offer sheet with another team as long as he can do it by March 1.

3.  Chandler can be sign and traded.

4.  Chandler can sign a one year deal with Denver that would set him up as an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer.

5.  Chandler is not offered a contract that is palatable to him and he goes into next season as a Restricted Free Agent as long as Denver ponies up another Qualifying Offer.

(Editor’s note: As commentor nugzin2040 pointed out in the comments and as has been confirmed by Larry Coon in this article (which I sure wish he had posted yesterday and thanks to commentor Steve for the link) players cannot be signed and traded during the season.  So feel free to ignore any more mention of option three in this post.)

Denver will likely match any offer sheet thrown Chandler’s way knowing they need him in the short term and can move his salary off their books in the long term.  I suspect other teams know that and there will be no offer sheet in Chandler’s future, plus none of the teams who have room to sign Chandler would be an appealing destination for him.

If Chandler signs a one year contract it will be as if he had signed his Qualifying Offer and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent next summer.  However, Denver would have to offer him that one year contract as he can no longer sign the Qualifying Offer.  Do not expect the Nuggets to make that mistake and risk losing Chandler for nothing.  The threat of signing the Qualifying Offer is the big leverage players have, but that leverage for Chandler is now gone.

I have no idea what the Nuggets’ plans are from a financial standpoint.  They can afford Chandler without threatening the luxury tax.  They will not want to lose him for less than he is worth, but if they are paying in the high teens for Chandler and Gallinari, they will restrict their ability to improve other areas of the team.

Look for Denver to either sign Chandler to a palatable deal for two or three seasons or for him to sit out the remainder of the season and try again this summer.  If Chandler is released prior to the March 1 deadline, there are not many teams that are likely to give him an offer sheet that is appealing to him.  If I had to put money on it, I would expect Denver and Chandler to come to an agreement on a shorter contract that would pay him without locking him into Denver for his entire prime, but I have a long history of losing money on the rare occasions I put any down on one of my “educated guesses.”

If Chandler wants to recapture the leverage the Qualifying Offer provided him as well as open up the door to more teams to provide offer sheets he could sit out the remainder of the season.  He would only be sacrificing two months of playing time at the most and that might be palatable for him.  I believe he wants to play and that is why he went to China in the first place.  I expect him to play this season.

We may get an idea of how far along management thinks this team is.  If they jump at the chance to sign Chandler and overpay him just to get him on the floor, it shows they think they have a shot to win it all this season.  If they wait, do not sign him and push his restricted free agency into the summer, it shows they believe what they have been saying publicly all along; this team is not a title contender this season and there is no need to rush into a deal with Chandler to help the short term at the expense of the long term plan.

Whether or not there is a quick resolution to Chandler’s contract following his release from China, with the Nuggets currently in desperate need of a small forward Nuggets fans now have a new second favorite team, whoever is playing Guangsha.  If they miss the playoffs, Chandler will be back playing for Denver well before Gallo can return.

Guangsha is currently 15-13, tied for eighth, but listed as ninth so I assume they lose the tiebreaker to the team they are tied with, Shanghai.  To make things even more exciting there are six teams within a game and a half of each other hovering around the eighth spot.  In their four remaining games (I have no idea how they have fared in the two games that have been played since the standings were updated) Guangsha plays two of the bottom three, the second place team and a team that they train by half a game.  They are only 6-9 over their previous 15 outings and If they manage to only win two of those games, they very well may miss the playoffs and Chandler could be delivered.

For the first time ever, we will keep a close eye on the final week of the CBA regular season.  It very well could mean a big difference in Denver’s playoff seed.

Reader Input

RMC reader Wayne Pan sent in this report on Wilson Chandler quite some time ago and I completely failed to post it in a timely fashion.  Now is as good a time as ever.  Thanks to Wayne for the email!

My name is Wayne and I have been working in China for the past 5 years. I have a been a long time reader for your blog and recently I had a chance to watch a CBA game featuring Zhenjiang, the team Wilson Chandler is playing on, at Dongguan. So I thought I would share my experience of watching Wilson Chandler play in CBA and what it’s like to attend a CBA game.

Before The Game

– Despite some research, I wasn’t able to buy any tickets through internet or by phone. Fearing I wouldn’t be able to get tickets, I drove 45 mins to the arena the day before the game to get tickets for my friend and I. I brought the VIP seats at around 80 US each, which is right behind the scorer keepers. When I brought my tickets, I checked out the monitor of the tickets, there were still tons of tickets left (about 80%)

– When my friend and I arrived on at the arena 30 mins before tip off, I asked the ticket counter and there were still a lot of tickets left, including the VIP seats. That would explain the inabilities to buy tickets online or by phone, there were no needs to.

– The gymnasium itself isn’t much, its quality is about a North American high school gym with more seats, which is expected consider they are playing at a town in Dongguan.

– Despite the lack of tickets sales, the seats were about 70% full by the time game started.

– The other foreign player for Zhenjian is Peter Ramos, a 7’3, 280lbs center drafted by the Wizard in 2004. He is massive even in NBA standards, he also suffers “Greg Oden Syndromes”, meaning he’s 26yrs old but looking like 46.

– Dongguan team has the tallest player in the CBA, Sun Hao, a 7’4 center who’s only 21 years old and weighs only about 21lbs as well.

The First Half

– It seems CBA has a rule of not allowing two foreign players on the court at the same time in the first half, at least that’s what happened for both teams.

– Wilson Chandler plays point guard a lot as he often brings the ball up but he’s not that good of a passer as he averages only a little more than 2 assists a game.

- In the first half, Zhejian team looked tired, playing their second game in 3 days. Wilson Chandler, who played most of the 1st quarter and none in the 2nd quarter, couldn’t get anything going and he only scored 3pts in the first half. He looked visibly frustrated quite a few time when his teammates couldn’t finish or catch the easy looks he created for them. I suspect the frustration could be also due to the fact that he really wants to be back in the NBA now the season is starting.- The 5’9 American guard playing for Dongguan, Josh Akognon, was shooting the lights out in the first half. Most of his attempts were from 3pt range and he was knocking them down at a high rate. It”s clear his team is using him like Ray Allen or Reggie Miller by consistently running plays to get him open on the perimeter, it worked too, as he scored 17pts in about 15 mins. Which no doubt factored Dongguan’s 18pts lead over Zhenjian at half time.The Second Half- Both teams sub their two foreign players and Peter Ramos and Wilson Chandler play all of the second half.- Wilson Chandler finally woke up in the second half and played his type of game. Instead of forcing the action, he crashed the boards, get to the foul line and finished some tough shots, scoring 24 of his 27 pts in the second half.- Peter Ramos was simply unstoppable down low. None of the big man from Dongguan team can guard him as he was young Shaq like, often catching passes near the rim and just dunk the ball in to score 20pts of his game high 31pts in the second half.- Taiwanese player Lin Zhi Jie was also aggressive in the second half as he drove into the lane often to create contact when Dongguan was in penalty. He scored 15pts of his 20 in the second half.- Josh Akognon cooled off considerably in the second half but that didn’t stop him from taking shots as he made 9 out 27 shots in the game with whopping 21 shot attempts from 3pt line.- Zhenjian was able to cut Dongguan’s lead to 3 points with less than 2 mins left but Zhejian two other players number 1 and 3 made couple of costly turnover and DongguansZhang Kai was able to convert those turnovers into a jumper and a dunk to seal for a win.Thoughts After The Game and Other Key Notes- The crowd was surprisingly into the game, obviously it’s not comparable to European or South American fans but it was better than I expected.- My friend and I suspect it was quite easy to get free seats using connections. Judging from the lack-of-basketball-knowledge discussion from the middle aged crowd behind us, we seriously doubt they would pay $80 US to watch basketball.- The quality of score keeping is lacking

– Wilson Chandler’s agent had stated Denver are willing to offer Chandler a multi-year contract and while Chandler enjoyed playing CBA, he desires to go back. However, CBA clubs have been making hard demands if these foreign helps wants to leave. They have asked players to not only forfeit all their salaries but also pay 1 millions US in compensation.

– After initial controversy with his team, JR Smith is on a scoring tear. Averaging 43.5pts in his last 4 games, including one game’s ridiculous NBA 2K12 stats of 52pts and 22 rebounds.

– Marbury is praised by Chinese media as the model example of foreign help as he brings professionalism and leadership to his new team in Beijing. After watching one of his games I would have to agree Marbury is a changed player. Unlike most of the superior talented foreign players, he didn’t hog the ball to take all the shots. Instead, he tries to get his teammates involve at the beginning of the game and only take the matter into his own hands when the games are close.The result is his team is off to a 10-0 start, the best in team’s history.

Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler warms up before a game in China.
Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler Lines up for a free throw.
Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler gives a post game interview after leading his team to a win.

Thanks to Wayne for the info.  Now you know what it is like to check out a game in China!

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  • Cody

    HERES TO HOPING HIS TEAM GOES ON A LOSING STREAK! PLEASE!!!!! btw wilson looks a bit bulkier

  • nugzin2040

    Qualifying offers in the past CBA, could not be signed past March 1st. I have not heard of that deadline changing with the new CBA, or extended because of the lockout.

    Assuming the same rule is in place, if Chandler’s team is not eliminated by March 1st, the qualifying offer would not be available for Chandler to take.

    So, it’s kind of a dilemma for Nugget fans: on one hand, Chandler could come back before Gallo is likely able to do so, and would hopefully be able to help the team.

    The negative is that Denver would likely end up either having to overpay him or him being able to become a restricted free agent.

    Now, if the Nuggets have done their due diligence, they would have specified a deadline before March 1st. Could have done so, from any date after October 1st.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      That is a great point nugzin2040. Most of the dates have been pushed back this season, but I have not heard about the deadline for signing QO. I will see if I can find anything out on it.

      • nugzin2040

        Thanks, good research to find out the date. QO’s not being signed are a rare thing, and maybe that’s why there wasn’t too much news about when the deadline was this year.

        Just one more comment, as I noticed you updated your article:

        Sign and trades are illegal mid-season with the new CBA. He could be traded in the off-season, if he decided to go with your option 5.

        I don’t see Denver offering a one-year deal, either. There’s just no incentive to do so. They would be unlikely to get anything for trade in the off-season if they go that route. Is signing him to a one year deal really worth giving up trade compensation for essentially 1-2 weeks max of him being the starter before Gallo returns?

        Liked the blog post, especially the story about Chandler in China. Cool to see how popular basketball has become in China.

    • Kalen

      Charlie just hit up Larry Coon on Twitter who said qualifying offers had to be signed by Dec. 25, therefore Chandler is restricted.

  • steve

    Hey guys, this article explains it all. Basically, this is what it says…

    restricted free agents can’t sign offer sheets after March 1 of any season, and this season is no exception. So Brooks and Chandler likely won’t be eligible to return to the NBA until after their eligibility to sign an offer sheet expires.

    Both Chandler’s Zhejiang Guangsha and Brooks’ Guangdong Hongyuan appear poised to make deep playoff runs, which means neither player is likely to return to NBA before the March 1 deadline for signing an offer sheet. If Chandler wants to play in the NBA after March 1, his only option will be to return to the Denver Nuggets. Likewise with Brooks and the Phoenix Suns.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/coon-are-chandler-and-brooks-stuck?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=coon-are-chandler-and-brooks-stuck

    • steve

      also guys, under new CBA you CANT sign and trade a player after the season starts. So, that option is out as well for now.

    • Kalen

      So correct me if I’m wrong, but essentially if Chandler wants to come back at any time this year he has to either sign a contract with the Nuggets or wait until the season ends and free agency opens back up in order to sign with a different team (even though the Nuggets still would be able to match)? If this is the case, then the Nuggets have a ton of leverage, right? They can tell Chandler if he wants to play, then fine but they’ll sign him to a very inexpensive deal. Or, if he doesn’t want to go that route then they’ll still get something for him in a sing-and-trade this summer.

  • Buffalo soldier

    If Chandler’s team is on the playoff bubble, he may tank it to miss the playoffs to be eligible before March 1.
    Or just play like he did in the playoffs last year.

    They need to change these crazy rules.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    Thanks everyone for helping me get this stuff right after more than a few changes. And it will be interesting to see if Chandler goes into 2011 playoff mode as Buffalo soldier mentions.

  • steve

    i would think we’d be able to sign him for a 2 year deal somewhere around the 5 mill per season mark honestly. He doesnt have many options and we should get him for less on a short team deal. but what do i know lol.

  • Andrew

    Chandler could definitely help, though it looks like he and Gallo might be returning around the same time based on the speculation. In the meanwhile, what do we think the rotations will settle into, assuming Nene and AAA are ok for tonight’s game? Will Brewer play? Think Karl stays with Ty/Rudy/Harrington/Nene/K2? Or maybe starts Miller? Just curious what people are thinking for tonight.

    Also, two other questions to bat around: 1) Would you rather have Rudy or JR? 2) Does anyone think there is even an outside chance that C Bill could be talked into a player/coach role with the Nuggets next year? Any chance Karl/Masai/Kroenke are even considering it?

    • steve

      Id rather JR in a heartbeat but no way he comes back especially after Karl’s remarks earlier this year. I dont think GK would want him back.

      I would love billups to come back 1 more season but have a feeling it’ll be with someone else. I dont see him being a player/coach but anything is possible.

      • Andrew

        I agree on all points.

  • SmokinNugs

    He won’t be averaging 26 points in the NBA but bring him back! Only silver lining of all these injuries is FINALLY getting to explore the depth of the bench!

  • ParkHillNative

    Wait, so management has publicly said that the current team is not a contender and that there is a long-term plan to eventually get there? I did not know this. It’s actually strangely refreshing to hear.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Both Kroenke and Ujiri have said on the radio they are a player away. Who they believe that player may be, I have no idea.

      • Kalen

        Where was this? Can we find a link?

        • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

          Charlie had the link. I will see if I can find it.

          Also, last night Sandy Klough intimated that they had each told him that at one time or another.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    A quick check of their roster page shows Guangsha has lost their two games that I had not seen a result for. That makes them 15-15.

    Addressing Buffalo soldier’s statement that Chandler could tank these closing games, he was 4-16 for 10 points in their game on the third, but shot 10-19 for 22 points in the other game. He did pull down nine and seven boards respectively in the two outings.

    Guangsha is now 2-6 in their last eight games and 6-14 since their 9-1 start. Looks like a nice convenient late season collapse!

    • nugzin2040

      Guangsha won today, to put their record at 16-13. But were 13-4, have went 3-9 since.

      Chandler had 16 pts, 9 rbs. Currently the 8th seed, and have a game against JR’s team in two days. They’re the 9th place team.

      • dynamo.joe

        Go JR!

  • ny nugs fan

    aaron brooks is one heck of a player

  • Ricardo

    Is Wilson Chandler averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds per game right now? If I was the nuggets, I would definitely re-sign him to a long-term contract and play him as a back-up power forward behind Nene, instead of Harrington.