The Denver Nuggets trade Wilson Chandler, a 2021 2nd round pick and the rights to swap 2022 2nd round picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for a small bag of cash, what grade do you give the trade and why?
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): A. This trade had to be done. Per Bobby Marks of ESPN, this trade saves the Nuggets around $37 million in tax penalties alone. They give up a single 2nd rounder and what might amount to moving back about 5 spots at the very end of the draft. You can ask for them to not get into this situation in the first place, but you can’t ask for a much better resolution.
Brendan Vogt (@Bvogt422): A. This move saves Denver a ton of money, $50 million in salary and luxury tax penalties. Denver had one too many forwards on their roster and a desperate need to move a contract after agreeing to a deal with Will Barton. That alone is great news, but it gets better—it didn’t cost them any of their valuable assets. This is just a good trade, plain and simple.
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): A. $50 million is a lot of money between Chandler’s salary and the luxury tax payments. This move allows Denver to be competitive right now with Barton as the starting 3, while also opening up a potential slot for Michael Porter Jr. to move into a permanent rotation spot when he returns. Chandler was a below average starting small forward this past year, and it became clear that Denver performed just as well (or better) with Barton in the lineup.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): Probably an A. Given the cold market for medium sized contracts, Denver had a tough task trying to get closer to the luxury tax line. The loss of Chandler also means that Denver will now be forced to play their best lineup - last year’s starters plus Will Barton - a lot of minutes, Chandler would’ve been very productive for Denver off of the bench but his absence could pave the way for players like Juancho Hernangomez, Tyler Lydon, and even Michael Porter Jr. whenever he is healthy enough to get on the court.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): The only thing keeping it from being an A-plus is that it wasn’t Kenneth Faried. Chandler can still play, and Faried wouldn’t be part of the rotation next season. Denver saved themselves nearly $50 million by moving Chandler. That’s a lot of money, and getting off that money for just a second round pick in the future? Fantastic.
Chandler played the fourth most minutes on the Nuggets last season. Who fills his shoes?
Mikash: Long term the hope has to be that it will be Michael Porter Jr, but in the short term the Nuggets will have to do it with a combo of guys. Barton seems like the answer but he already led the team in minutes last season. He also won’t play the power forward role. The opportunity is there for the taking for a guy like Hernangomez, Lydon or Torrey Craig.
Vogt: This is why you retain Will Barton. He led the team in minutes last season, but now he’ll slide into that starting small forward role. This frees up some minutes for guys like Hernangomez and Craig—though there is no guarantee that the latter suits up for Denver. I think Juancho is the big winner here.
Blackburn: Will Barton will start and play primarily small forward going into the season. At least, that’s the plan right now. Beyond Barton, Denver has a number of bench options. Malik Beasley likely plays backup shooting guard, but a jump from him could see him play small forward as well. Hernangomez is in line for a jump in playing time. He deserves an opportunity to prove his worth. Above all though, I expect Denver to retain Craig and for him to become the primary backup 3 (as long as he accepts a cheaper deal).
Mares: Barton will probably play a lot more minutes at small forward this season which means there will be openings for backup small forward and guard positions. Craig is probably in pole position to take some minutes at both spots but Lydon and Hernangomez will both have the chance to show that they are ready to play rotation minutes.
Lewis: Barton should be written in as the starter at small forward in permanent marker. He’s earned a starting role in the league, and should be able to soak up those minutes. The next question is who gets Barton’s minutes. Is it one of Hernangomez, Craig, Lydon, Porter Jr. or Beasley? I would love to see Porter Jr. healthy enough to get some of those minutes, but he’s a rookie. I think the players with the best shot at those minutes are Juancho or Craig, and they’ll get a chance to win that spot in training camp.
How will Chandler be remembered as a Nugget?
Mikash: I think he’ll be remembered in a similar light to a player like Nene. Good player, didn’t quite live up to expectations but that’s more because of injury than anything. Just as with Nene and Kenyon Martin, we never really got to see the two headed monster of Chandler and Danilo Gallinari gel and ultimately that might be the biggest takeaway from both of their time in Denver.
Vogt: Unfortunately my guess is that fans will hold a short memory. This older, less motivated version of Wilson Chandler will probably be the lasting impression. Chandler ultimately fell short of expectations but he served as an important figure in the transition from a post-Melo era to the age of Jokic-ball. I hope he’s remembered fondly.
Blackburn: My guess? As a bridge between eras. Chandler stuck around for over eight years in Denver. He was there for the ups (57-win season, intro to Jokic ball) and the downs (Brian Shaw era), but through it all, he persevered and maintained professionalism. I’m glad he was on the Nuggets this past year. He showed Denver exactly what they needed to become a championship contender in the future, while helping the young players grow, develop, and succeed this past season. Thank you, Wilson.
Mares: Unfortunately, fans in Denver have focused on the negative aspects of Chandler’s tenure much more than the positive. Chandler was injury prone throughout the middle portion of his time here and often played the role of scapegoat toward the end of his stint in the Mile High City. I’ll remember him as a key piece to one of the most fun teams in Nuggets history, the 2013 57-win team and one of the more interesting personalities to come through Pepsi Center.
Lewis: A player that had the tools to be a great player in the modern NBA, but due to injuries and a lockout, he wasn’t able to get as much time to show his talents in the NBA. Chandler was a great rebounder, isolation scorer, and a versatile player with Denver. He had such a unique personality, and was a great player with Denver. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to play the position he would be most comfortable at, but for the most part, he was a good soldier and did what he was asked to do.