Chandler’s Gamble

31 Aug

Wilson averaged 12.5 pts 5 rebs and 1.6 asts per game for the Nuggets in less playing time after being traded from New York in the Carmelo deal.

By Chris McCoy

All signs are pointing to a lengthy NBA Lockout.

The owners and players are incredibly far apart on a deal, and as the clock continues to tick away, an 82 game 2011-12 season is starting to become more of a dream than a reality.

CHEW ON THIS: not only did the NBA lockout go far enough into the off season in ’98 to cause a shortened 1999 season, but four NBA owners are also NHL owners as well – i.e. they’ve got a lot of dough and are loud voices in the room – and the NHL locked out for an entire season and got exactly what they wanted. Can somebody say case study? 22 of the 30 teams are already claiming to be losing money anyways, why not sit out the season entirely and lose less money than you would if games were played?

With the season in jeopardy, we are beginning to see many players signing overseas deals; most are back ups like Rasual Butler (Bulls), Patty Mills (Blazers), Von Wafer (Celtics) and Nicolas Batum (Blazers). Deron Williams is a certified superstar though, and while Williams signing in Turkey has created more buzz about star players signing abroad, it seems that most of them are weighing their options while waiting it out to see what happens between now and October 9th – when training camp is set to start.

A determinant of stars signing abroad is the necessity for an opt out clause, which would allow currently signed players, playing abroad to return to the NBA once/if the season resumes. For free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, signing a contract with a team overseas doesn’t have to necessarily include an opt out clause, but if there isn’t one, that player will basically forfeit playing in the NBA next season, as they will be obligated to stay regardless of what happens in the NBA labor talks.

Players like Durant, seen here in action this summer, won't be found in China this season, as they've decided to say no to NBA superstars.

Many leagues have been debating whether or not signing NBA stars is actually beneficial to their leagues. Although these players would undoubtedly bring in more fans and revenue while they’re there, what happens when they all up and leave in the event of a resolution between the NBA and NBAPA? These squads definitely wouldn’t look the same, and would all have voids they’d need to fill. The Chinese Basketball League has made that decision for it’s clubs, the CBA decided last week that they will have no opt out clauses in their contracts because they will not allow any players currently under contract to sign with it’s teams. That means that only NBA free agents may sign with Chinese teams.

Knowing this, Nuggets F and restricted free agent Wilson Chandler surprisingly still signed with Zhejiang Guangsha of the CBA on Monday, which pretty much ends his chances of playing in the NBA next year, and he seemingly doesn’t mind. “Maybe I’ll lose out,” Chandler said. “But I think it can be a great experience. I haven’t been in any [labor negotiation] meetings. I can’t call it. I’m just taking a risk, at the end of the day.”

All hope is not lost for  Chandler to rejoin the Nuggets, or whomever in April if there is an NBA season at that point. Last year only the two CBA finalist were playing in April, so Dub-C could play out his Chinese contract, reportedly worth between the $3.1M qualifying offer the Nuggets made to retain his rights and the $1.7M that’s been reported by a few other sources, and join a team for the final stretch and playoff run.

Chandler ultimately signed with Zhejiang Guangsha over Italian club Olimpia Milano because he liked the appeal of playing up to three games a week in China as opposed to once a week in Italy. It also didn’t hurt that Jim Cleamons, former Dallas Mavs coach and former Phil Jackson assistant will be coaching the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.

Young was the Wizards leading scorer last year at 17.4 ppg.

Chandler acknowledges the injury concern, “It’s a huge concern,” Chandler said. “But as long as I take care of my body, I’ll be fine. We’ve got insurance.”

Chandler’s gamble sets a precedence just like Williams’ does. He’s not limiting his options based off of a resolution that may occur. He’s making the best decision for himself and his family. Just like the Williams case, there is now speculation that a few free agents may follow his lead. Thaddeus Young (Sixers) and Nick Young (Wizards) are among players entertaining the idea.

Will anyone else be pulling a Chandler? Let’s watch and see!

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