When the Sixers acquired Wilson Chandler for “cash considerations” this offseason, it seemed like a great move.
The Nuggets, flush with young talent on the perimeter, were looking to get free of Chandler’s $12,800,562 cap hit. The Sixers, looking for a useful veteran, were happy to oblige.
Unfortunately, the Sixers hadn’t quite gotten the same player that they saw in New York and Denver through 29 games.
There have been flashes — like the Christmas Day game against Boston — but no consistency.
It’s been a tough transition for Chandler. Being traded from an organization you spent nearly a decade with isn’t easy.
Nor is adjusting from being primarily used as a small forward for your career and now being asked to play more stretch four. Nor is getting used to playing alongside three All-Star caliber players.
“It’s been a tough process for me but I think I’m starting to figure it out,” Chandler said postgame Tuesday while sharing the podium with Joel Embiid. “Just playing off Jo and Ben [Simmons]. Knowing when to be aggressive and where to find my shots.”
There haven’t been many moments for postgame talks with the media for Chandler this season and Embiid made sure to bust his chops.
“You’re f------ trash,” you could hear Embiid jokingly whisper to Chandler while he attempted to answer a question about his fit. Chandler laughed before telling Embiid to “chill out.”
But all in all, it’s been a rough go for Chandler, who has missed 15 of the team’s 45 games. Every time it seems like Chandler might be able to start rolling, another health issue creeps up.
First, it was the hamstring strain that cost him the first nine games of the season. As he was recovering from that, he suffered a bruised quad that lingered. That was followed by the upper-respiratory infection that’s passed through the team.
He appeared to turn a corner in Boston, but in the seven games he played in following the overtime loss to the Celtics, Chandler averaged just 4.7 points a game and shot 31 percent from the field (23 percent from three).
In Tuesday night’s blowout win over the Timberwolves, the 31-year-old combo forward gave yet another glimpse of what he can provide this team.
He scored 14 points, tied for his second-highest point total of the season. He shot 5 of 7 from the field and 4 of 6 from three. He also added five rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes, showing off the all-around game he can provide.
Even with Chandler struggling, the Sixers’ starting lineup was lethal. If he makes shots like Tuesday? Good luck.
A new wrinkle Brett Brown spoke about postgame was pairing Embiid and Jimmy Butler on the court more. An offshoot of that is that Chandler got to spend more time on the wing — something the 12th year veteran admitted he felt more comfortable with.
A healthy and comfortable Chandler could spell trouble for Sixers opponents. With a brutal stretch coming up, the Sixers will need this version of Wilson Chandler.
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