Wilson Chandler has lost the free aspect of free agency. The time period that would have allowed for him to sign an offer sheet with another team has passed. The only way he can get any aspect of his free agency back is to sit out this season to become a restricted free agent again. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reports:
The deadline has come and passed, so free agent Wilson Chandler can play for only one NBA team this season — the Nuggets. But there's a caveat — the Nuggets will only sign Chandler to a long-term deal, because if they were to sign him for only the rest of this season, then he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
It seems pretty obvious, Chandler doesn't want to play in Denver. This isn't news, Frank Isola of the New York Times reported this in January of 2011, before Chandler was dealt to Denver as a part of the Carmelo Anthony deal:
"He's (Chandler) really worried that he's going to get traded," the source added. "He doesn't want to leave New York. And he doesn't want to be in Denver."
This seems to still be the case, as Chandler could have signed with the Nuggets already, instead of flirting with the notion of going to Italy to play as Hochman mentions in his article.
Chandler is a talented swing-man who would get a ton of attention from other teams in the more normal 2012 off-season. Teams won't be hindered by the NBA Lockout, nor will they have to deal with the fact that they have to wait until March to sign Chandler.
What should Wilson Chandler do?
The half-year rental of Chandler complicated things. He isn't a player on the downside of his career like Kenyon Martin. The rental situation isn't a good deal for him or the team he would potentially sign with.
This is why any team interested in Chandler is likely looking to lock him up to a long-term deal. Those are difficult to negotiate mid-season, especially under these circumstances.
If Chandler waits until the offseason, he will open negotiations back up for other teams to sign him to an offer sheet he hopes the Nuggets are unwilling to match. Another option would be a sign-and-trade, allowing the Nuggets to receive some compensation for losing him.
Either way, he gets to chose his destination, and to exit Denver for a long-term deal.
The worse thing that could happen to Chandler is this:
He could play in Denver these remaining 29 games and the playoffs, get hurt or simply play poorly, thereby hurting his stock.
He would damage his long-term earning potential, all the while playing in a location that is undesirable to him.
Chandler is a 6'8", 24-year-old swing-man who already owns a career scoring average of 14 points per game. He is better suited allowing teams to evaluate him based on what he's already done. He only stands to lose playing for a team he doesn't like, risking injury and or poor play.
This is a crucial period in Chandler's career. He would be wise to exert some patience in choosing his next destination.