Free agent profile: Wilson Chandler
This is the seventh post in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit in with the Lakers.
Wilson Chandler, Nuggets forward
Type of free agent: Restricted
Positives: Chandler arrived in Denver last season as part of the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and showed some encouraging signs for a fifth-year player. Nuggets Coach George Karl immediately noticed Chandler helping on weakside defense and on the perimeter. He averaged 12.5 points per game, thanks to a knack for scoring in bunches with both outside shots and drives to the basket. And he appeared willing to come off the bench, though he's talented enough to assume a starting spot on most teams.
Chandler doesn't have an outgoing personality that would resonate in a locker room. Chandler is known to be rather quiet, but he makes up for it with a willingness to hustle on defense and on the boards. He also can play multiple positions at shooting guard, small forward and power forward.
Negatives: This might just be part of the growing pains, but Chandler showed a few signs last season that he still has plenty of room to develop. His shooting percentage dropped from 46.1% in New York to 41.9% in Denver. Chandler became a non-factor in the first round of the playoffs against Oklahoma City, where he averaged 4.8 points per game and shot a combined one-of-14 in Games 2, 3 and 4. Signs of frustration during adversity also indicate that he remains a project. The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman also noted that Chandler lacked "consistency" and "intensity" at certain points during the season and that he never felt fully comfortable with the Nuggets, leading to further questions on how Chandler could adapt to a Lakers team that boasts even greater depth.
Verdict: Hochman indicated the Nuggets expect to re-sign him, but Wilson made it clear when he arrived with the Nuggets that he would be open to moving elsewhere. He has steadily improved in points per game through five seasons since entering the NBA in 2007 after his sophomore year at DePaul, so it's conceivable he'll spark more demand around the league and a heftier contract.
Adding more depth to the forward spot isn't exactly a pressing need for the Lakers, but Chandler would be a viable option particularly if the Lakers decide to ship away Lamar Odom and the two years and $17 million remaining on his contract. In some way, Chandler is a poor man's Odom. If nothing else, Chandler, 24, could suit the Lakers for the long term, considering Matt Barnes has one year remaining on his contract, while Odom and Luke Walton each have two more years.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Wilson Chandler challenges a shot by Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler in a game in April at Staples Center. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire