Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler has been diagnosed with a labral tear and will undergo hip surgery early next week, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports and the team confirms via press release. He initially suffered the injury during the preseason and he has missed the team’s first seven games. Chandler will miss the remainder of the season as a result of the surgery, but he is expected to make a complete recovery after a six-month rehab, sources tell Wojnarowski.
“I’m incredibly disappointed at this point, I put in so much work over the summer to make myself a better player,” Chandler said in the team’s statement. “I was really looking forward to this year, being out there battling with my teammates, being a part of the change. I dedicated my whole summer to self-improvement and all I had on my mind this off-season and preseason was ‘this was my year, I was going to help this team win.’ So this is very frustrating and heart-breaking to say the least. I just want to say thank you to the whole organization for supporting me at a time like this.”
Chandler signed a four-year, $46.5MM extension with Denver during the offseason and he was expected to play a major role for the team. The 28-year-old had been the subject of frequent trade rumors over the past year and by virtue of being a veteran on a rebuilding team, those rumors were likely to continue, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors noted in Denver’s Offseason in Review.
The Nuggets started the season with a record of 3-4 with quality wins over the Rockets and Blazers despite Chandler missing from the line-up. It’ll be hard for the team to keep up that win pace without the forward returning to reinforce the roster. The team was already thin in the frontcourt with injuries to Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic. Those injuries, coupled with the news of Chandler missing the season, could mean that Kostas Papanikolaou, whom the team signed last week, remains in Denver through the season, although that is just my speculation.
If the Nuggets go over the cap, which they’re almost $1.5MM under, they would become eligible to apply for a Disabled Player Exception worth $5,224,719, a figure equal to half of Chandler’s salary. However, the Nuggets already have a full 15-man roster, with Papanikolaou the only player without fully guaranteed salary. The team doesn’t currently have enough players with long-term injuries to apply for a 16th roster spot via hardship.