Wilson Chandler: Does His Shocking Signing Signal Lost NBA Season?

Lake CruiseAnalyst ISeptember 2, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 19:  Forward Wilson Chandler #21 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Center Erick Dampier #25 of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 19, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  The Heat defeated the Nuggets 103-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Does Wilson Chandler know something we don’t about the upcoming NBA season? Time will tell if the former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets guard-forward is a basketball prophet.

Once upon a time in 2005, the 24-year-old Benton Harbor native was Mr. Basketball of Michigan. After starring at DePaul near Lake Michigan in Chicago for two years, he was drafted in the first round with the 23rd pick by Chi-Town native Isiah Thomas and the Knicks in 2007.

In the nick of time for Chandler, I guess, he joined former NBA head coach and Phil Jackson’s understudy in Chicago and L.A., Jim Cleamons, in China. Cleamons played in the NBA for nine seasons for the Lakers, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bullets.

Chandler’s shot heard around the NBA world means he’s locked in commitment to Zhejiang Guangsha in the Chinese Basketball Association. His contract doesn’t have an option to return to the NBA if the lockout ends.

According to ESPN.com and NBA.com, he’ll be playing in China for the 2011-12 NBA season and perhaps beyond. I’m guessing that the faltering American economy could have had something to do with his decision.

If he was forced to go to China for immediate financial reasons, then I can understand why he did it. If his agent, Chris Luchey, advised him to do it because of insider knowledge concerning the lockout, then inquiring minds want to know.

The 6’8” Chandler was a restricted free agent and probably would have gotten a raise from Denver. The Nuggets probably would have signed him for significantly more than his current $1.7-$3 million salary Zhejiang will pay him.

He proved he’s a rising upper second tier NBA combination player, which is good for $8-10 million per year. He’ll go down in history as the guy who was the center piece in the three-way blockbuster trade ultimately designed to bring Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple.

According to Luchey in an interview by telephone with Denverpost.com, Chandler took a bite out of the NBA and bolted to China, thereby becoming a trailblazer.

“Trust me, we discussed all of the risks and how being a trendsetter can be seen as a positive or negative. Most people will view it as a negative,” the agent reportedly said. “But we discussed all the risks and steps.”

I can’t blame them because the NBPA and the NBA owners have been dragging their feet all summer—only meeting very sporadically in public.

The league met this past Wednesday in Manhattan and announced plans to say less in public about the process, as if they were saying more in the first place. Now, according to an article posted on NBA.com, they plan to meet more.

Commissioner David Stern, reportedly in and ESPN.com podcast in August, had viewed this Labor Day as a tentative deadline for when progress needed to be seen. How is that going?

“We had a meeting before Labor Day (Wednesday, Aug. 31) and agreed that we would continue to meet,” he said. President Derrick Fisher concurred.

“It’s very obvious that coming out of the lockout being July 1 and into this part of August, it’s very clear both sides are feeling a sense of urgency,” Fisher said. “We’re very focused on getting a deal done and that’s how we’ll proceed from this point going forward.”

The rhetoric was obviously too little, too late for Chandler’s camp. I’m wondering if a growing number of players will follow the trendsetter. Training camps are scheduled to open starting Oct. 1.

Chandler and his agent could have seen the writing on the wall and did what they felt was best for him and his family. He’ll be a Nuggets restricted free agent again next summer.

This lockout business is getting old for everyone concerned, and the NBA needs to hurry up and get something done. If the owners don’t want to be caught up in the wave of conspiracy theories about the elite purposely devaluing the American dollar, then they need to get a deal done.

Time is running out in more ways than one. The dollar’s value is falling fast and the economy is getting worse. A missed season could mean years of unprofitable seasons, but NBA owners don’t seem to understand this.

There will be plenty of fans on deck, but if fans are going hungry with no food on their shelves, then more teams will lose a startling amount of money. Fans could stay home and read about what their favorite players are doing. God bless us all.

Comment or contact Lake Cruise at lakecruise@att.net.