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Chris Haynes: Wilson Chandler will opt in to the final year of his contract

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The longest tenured Nugget is coming back

Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Wilson Chandler plans to opt in to the final year of his contract.

Wilson had until June 30th to decide whether or not he wanted to exercise his 2018-19 player option worth $12.8 million. Chandler played in 74 games this season and averaged 10 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 36% from the three-point line. He started at small forward in 71 of those 74 games.

While not surprising, Chandler’s decision to opt in gives the Denver Nuggets some urgency to clear salary cap space heading into the 2018-19 NBA season. The Nuggets are projected to dip well into the luxury tax once they sign their star center, Nikola Jokic to an extension. Jokic is eligible to sign upwards of a five-year, $140 million extension in the next week or two as NBA free agency begins. Denver would also like to bring back swingman Will Barton who is an unrestricted free agent and likely to command an eight-figure contract on the open market. Adding both players without trading anyone away would force Denver into an astronomical salary cap sheet, well beyond what would be expected for a team coming off of a 46-win season.

Kenneth Faried is the most likely player to be traded in a salary dump maneuver. He is owed $13.7 million next season and has fallen out of the rotation behind Paul Millsap and Trey Lyles. Denver may also shop Chandler in trade talks to shed his $12.8 million salary next year. Darrell Arthur is also set to earn over $7 million next season and is also an end of bench player who may be gain some interest in a salary dump type trade.

This also projects to be a difficult free agency period to try and trade away “dead money” contracts like Faried’s and Arthur’s. Because the salary cap spiked in 2016 and fell in the two following seasons, few teams are in position to take on expiring contracts. It’s likely that Denver would have to attach a player or draft pick in order to lure a team into a deal. Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Monte Morris, and Tyler Lydon are all young prospects that teams might be interested in and Denver owns their own first round draft picks for each of the next three seasons.