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Upon seeing Wilson Chandler in the Denver locker room, Nuggets coach George Karl greeted him with a handshake and a smile.
“I could’ve used you tonight,” Karl said.
That wish could soon be a reality.
Chandler, a restricted free agent, attended Denver’s 103-101 overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night and said he hopes to sign a new contract with the Nuggets “in the next week or so.”
Chandler, 24, finished last season with the Nuggets but spent the past several months playing in China, where he averaged 26.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in 32 games with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.
“I like being in Denver,” he said. “It’s a great team, a great young team. They’re playing hard. The injuries have been tough, but it’s still a pretty good team. I’m looking forward to being back.”
Chandler, a versatile small forward, still needs clearance from the Chinese Basketball Association before he can return to the NBA. He also can talk to other teams, but the Nuggets would have three days to match any contract offer.
“I hope we get him back,” Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. “We’re excited to have him here. It’s good to see him again.”
After watching the game from a center-court suite, Chandler spent some time with his former teammates in the locker room.
“He can do a lot,” point guard Ty Lawson said. “He’s a shooter, a defender. He’s big for us. Hopefully can get that (clearance from China) and go out and play.”
Chandler did not anticipate problems receiving clearance. In the meantime, he and the Nuggets will continue discussions on a new contract.
“A long-term deal would be fine,” he said. “Hopefully I can get back and help the team out.”