We can say definitively that Wilson Chandler's contract negotiations have been the most intensely followed of any restricted free agent swing man who played in China during the NBA lockout this season. Call us brash, but we're putting that out there. Alas, the negotiations should have some finality this week. Chris Luchey, Chandler's agent, told Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy they have set a Friday deadline with the Nuggets to work out a deal.
Chandler and Luchey arrived in Denver over the weekend with the hope of agreeing on a long-term contract while the Nuggets are here for a nine-game home stand. If the two sides are unable to work out a deal, Chandler will sit out the rest of the season or play overseas where Italy is reportedly an option for Chandler.
Since the March 1 deadline for Chandler to sign an offer sheet with another team passed, his only options for the rest of the season are to sign with the Nuggets, sit out the season or play in Europe. Chandler has sought a deal for the rest of the season only, but the Nuggets are unwilling to agree because it would make him an unrestricted free agent after the season and the team would risk losing a major chip in the Carmelo Anthony trade for nothing.
But according the Luchey, those options don't seem as likely as Chandler signing long-term with the Nuggets.
"With Wilson being here and spending time with the team, I feel very confident that the Nuggets will lock him up long-term," Luchey told Kennedy. "We'd like a five-year deal. This year will count as one so it's really a four-and-a-half-year deal."
The sides are trying to find a dollar amount that is palatable for both. For those in the "Don't overpay Chandler to be a back-up" camp, it's a good sign that negotiations have lasted this long. If the Nuggets had offered a sizable (read: idiotic) contract, Chandler likely would have signed already.
Should negotiations turn contentious, Chandler does have a little leverage. Thanks to a new rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if Chandler plays overseas for the rest of the season, the Nuggets would not be able to sign-and-trade him in the off-season, which might be a decent option for them. The Nuggets would presumably have this option should he simply not play anywhere for the rest of the season.
If Chandler does enter the summer as a restricted free agent Luchey told Kennedy nine teams other than the Nuggets have shown interest in signing him. The Nuggets would be able to match any offer, but it would likely be for more money than they are currently offering him.
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This morning, for what it's worth, Luchey responded to a question about negotiations by tweeting, "We are all trying."
Luchey also told Kennedy that Chandler has been working out with his personal trainer and that if he reaches a deal, he would be ready to play right away. This could help at present, considering Danilo Gallinari is still working back into game shape after an ankle injury. Gallo tossed a doughnut in the scoring column in the Nuggets' loss last night to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Whatever the outcome, Chandler the player may be less discussed than Chandler the rumor.
More from our Sports archive: "Wilson Chandler doesn't sign offer sheet, can return to Nuggets -- but will he?"