Wilson Chandler knows his new team quite well.
His former team lost to them twice last season and the veteran combo forward came away impressed.
“I’m a fan of the whole team in general,” Chandler said Tuesday on a conference call. “I was telling one of my old teammates in Denver after we played them, ‘Man, these guys play f------ hard.’”
Chandler, acquired in a trade with the Nuggets last week, wasn’t just impressed with the Sixers’ hustle. He spoke glowingly of the franchise’s two young stars — Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He also singled out JJ Redick, Dario Saric and Robert Covington as players he’s looking forward to joining.
He didn’t drop a “Trust the Process” during the call but did come to the defense of former GM Sam Hinkie’s strategy and where it’s gotten the current team.
“First of all, I think the organization deserves more credit,” he said. “They had a couple years where a lot of people were giving them s--- about ‘what are they doing?’ and all that stuff, but they’ve done a great job putting a team together. They have two young stars … I think Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are future stars. In my eyes, they’re really good right now but they’re future stars and I see big things for both of them and big things in general. They did a good job putting a lot of good, young talent together.”
The trade that brought Chandler here was strictly a financial move for the cap-strapped Nuggets. His acquisition also offers the Sixers flexibility. Since they absorbed his salary, he can be traded — say, to maybe San Antonio — immediately. His deal is also expiring, freeing up the Sixers to enter the free agency fray yet again next offseason.
With that said, Chandler brings plenty to the table if he remains with the Sixers. He provides more NBA experience to the team’s young core. He offers versatility, with the ability to play the three and the four. He’s also considered a solid defender, something the Sixers lacked off their bench in their series loss to the Celtics.
Chandler appears to be fully embracing everything about his new squad — from his new head coach Brett Brown to the role he could wind up playing. Whether it’s off the bench or as a starter, on the offensive end or on defense, Chandler just wants to help the Sixers win.
“Me personally, I’m not worried about coming off the bench or starting,” Chandler said. “I’ve done both in my career. I’ve come off the bench more than I started. I’m not opposed to that at all. I just want to win. I’m just glad to be back on a playoff team. I’m looking forward to pushing them as far as I can.”
Chandler has been in the league since 2007 and has only played in 11 playoff games. He hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013. Given the Sixers’ current roster, the chances are excellent that Chandler will change that trend.
But making the playoffs alone won’t satisfy him.
“In my opinion, I think this team is built to make a run at the title,” Chandler said. “I think that’s my expectation and I think that’s everybody’s. It should be.”