Following Wilson Chandler's visit to Toronto yesterday, a lot of misinformation on the 24-year-old's options has been floating around the web. Because of Chandler's unique situation, returning from a season in China as a restricted NBA free agent, there's some confusion about where he can sign, and for how much. So let me run through Chandler's situation as I see it….
- Typically, restricted free agents can sign offer sheets with opposing teams, which the free agent's team then has three days to match. In this case, the Nuggets still hold Chandler's rights, so they'd have the option of matching any offer sheet he signs elsewhere.
- To become a restricted free agent, Chandler had to be extended a qualifying offer by Denver. Generally, the deadline to accept that one-year deal is March 1st. Assuming the Nuggets didn't move that deadline up, Chandler should be able to accept that qualifying offer (worth $3.1MM, pro-rated) and be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season, if he doesn't get a long-term offer he likes. He could also sit out the rest of the season and become a restricted free agent again in the summer, when teams have more financial flexibility.
- Restricted free agents aren't permitted to sign offer sheets after March 1st, according to CBA expert Larry Coon, so if Chandler intends to sign an offer sheet with the Raptors or any other team, he'll have to do so within the next few days.
- ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, and SI.com's Sam Amick are among those writing that the Raptors have cap space (about $4.3MM) to put toward an offer for Chandler. It had previously been thought that the Raptors had used their mid-level exception and bi-annual exception to sign Aaron Gray and Gary Forbes respectively. If the team has available cap space, however, it must have renounced its $16MM in cap holds, signed Forbes using cap space, and signed Gray using its $2.5MM room exception for teams under the cap. Still, a contract starting at $4.3MM won't be enough to scare off the Nuggets, so if the Raptors are serious about Chandler, they could try to make a trade that clears more cap space, as Kyler reports.
- If Chandler accepted his qualifying offer from the Nuggets and became an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Raptors and a number of other teams would have the flexibility to make him a much larger offer than they can right now. So it makes sense that agent Chris Luchey suggested to Amick that GM Masai Ujiri and the Nuggets are more interested in a long-term contract than a rest-of-season deal. Denver is in a good position to outbid rival suitors at this point, but bidding could get more competitive this summer.