After an uneven start to their season, the Denver Nuggets are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have hopes of qualifying for the playoffs in the Western Conference, where they’re currently one loss behind Portland for the eighth seed. Despite their youthful roster, the Nuggets are 21-27 and with lineup issues settled, feel as though they’ve turned a corner.
But the Nuggets gold rush may be hitting a temporary speed bump.
According to a report from USA Today’s Sam Amick, Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler wants to be traded:
The 29-year-old Chandler, who has been having a career season (15.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg), has been a casualty of the lineup changes, and is now coming off the bench. According to Amick, Chandler is frustrated with his current role…
The recent decision of Nuggets coach Mike Malone to reinsert forward Kenneth Faried into the starting lineup moved Chandler to a reserve role, with Danilo Gallinari filling the starting small forward spot (though he injured his groin in a loss to Memphis on Wednesday night). In all, Chandler – who had just four points (two of six shooting) in 25 minutes against the Grizzlies – has started in 13 of 44 games.
While it’s not believed that Chandler has requested a trade, the Nuggets – who currently owe him a combined $36 million for this season and next two (player option in 2018-19) – are known to be aware of his concerns. The only question now is which team might step up to help get a deal done.
The NBA’s recent summer of skyrocketing salaries may help the market for Chandler, as his annual salary ($11.2 million this season) isn’t nearly as exorbitant as was once perceived. Such is life in today’s NBA, where the cap – which was $63 million just two seasons ago before the nine-year, $24 billion television rights deal with Turner and ESPN changed everything – is expected to be $102 million next season. As such, and with max contract players making upwards of $30 million annually, productive players like Chandler will come at their own elevated premium in the league’s unprecedented landscape.
Chandler’s hope, it’s quite clear, is to stop paying a price of his own for the way the Nuggets’ roster was built.