The Nuggets gave Wilson Chandler a contract extension this summer, using some of their cap space to increase his salary this season in exchange for paying him less in later years. I think the driving force was increasing Chandler’s trade value, as most projected Denver to require a deeper rebuild.
But a surprising 105-85 win over the Rockets yesterday should cause people to at least reevaluate expectations.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, if they plan a playoff push this season, it’ll begin without Chandler.
The Nuggets forward was with the team Wednesday night in Houston for the season opener, but he watched in street clothes as he works to return to the court. He’s officially day to day, but Chandler said he expects the recovery to take “a couple of weeks.”
“Not really serious, but something that you want to take your time with,” Chandler said. “No surgery needed, not a long period of the season missed. Just kind of like a day-to-day thing, couple of weeks. Like a strain in the hamstring.”
Gary Harris started against Houston, and he’ll probably go to the bench once Chandler returns. But Denver coach Michael Malone could slide Danilo Gallinari to power forward and start both Harris and Chandler.
The Nuggets are versatile, a trait that will only expand once Chandler is healthy. Chandler, a 3-and-D wing with more offensive range than that label implies, is a starting-caliber player.
HBut his absence, even for just a couple weeks, could loom large. The margin for error in the loaded Western Conference is just so slim.