By Kristian Winfield New York Daily News
The Brooklyn Nets are going to be another man short.
Veteran forward Wilson Chandler will not be joining his teammates in Orlando, the Daily News has confirmed. Brooklyn is one of 22 teams set to resume the NBA season at Walt Disney World Resorts. Chandler’s decision was first reported by ESPN.
“As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first,” Wilson told ESPN. “Thank you to the Nets organisation for understanding and supporting me in this decision, and I will be watching and rooting for our team in Orlando.”
The Nets replaced Chandler with a familiar face in reserve journeyman forward Justin Anderson. Anderson, a physical and versatile defender at the four spot, played on a 10-day contract in Brooklyn earlier this season as the Nets battled the injury bug. In three games, he shot 0% from three and just 17% from the field. The minutes at the four project to be largely split between Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs, and Anderson.
Prince started the majority of the season at the four until March 6, when Kenny Atkinson inserted Chandler into the Nets’ starting rotation for the last three games before the March 11 coronavirus hiatus. He averaged about six points and four rebounds per game, and shot 40.1% from the field this season.
During the hiatus, Chandler has openly expressed his dismay with the rush to resume the NBA season in the middle of both a surge in number of recent coronavirus cases — especially in Florida — and the national outrage in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer. Chandler signed a one-year deal in Brooklyn last summer but was suspended the first 25 games of the regular season due to a failed drug test. He returned and, despite shooting just 30% from three, was inserted as the starting four largely due to his toughness and physicality on the defensive end.
The power forward position has been of concern for the Nets both this season and last. In Brooklyn, Anderson is more of the same: another stop gap forward who doesn’t address the needs the Nets need at the four.
Last season, Brooklyn’s power forwards included Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (couldn’t shoot), Jared Dudley (capable, but well past his prime), Rodions Kurucs (couldn’t shoot), and DeMarre Carroll (oft-injured). The Nets will also be short rookie Nic Claxton, who opted to undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder.
Prince could be the starter when the Nets play their first game in the Orlando bubble against the Magic on July 31. The starter could also be Kurucs, the second-year forward from Latvia who was frequently buried at the end of the bench, or on G-League assignment despite shooting nearly 39% from three this season.
Prince has struggled from the field this season. After shooting 39% from downtown with the Hawks last season, he has admonished his own inconsistencies in Brooklyn as a sub-34% marksman from three and sub-38% scorer from the field.
The Nets now have an open roster slot which they can use to sign any free agent during the NBA’s transaction window that closes on Tuesday just before midnight. Brooklyn recently waived Theo Pinson to sign combo guard Tyler Johnson.
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