Feb 17, 2012, 9:16 AM EDT
The reports had been that NBA players who signed to play a full season in China were going to be stuck there until their team was out of the playoffs.
Wilson Chandler’s team, the Zhejiang Lions, is the seven seed (and would face Stephon Marbury’s team in the first round) but instead they may just let Chandler go to return to the Denver Nuggets and the NBA.
After the Zhejiang Lions finished the regular season with a victory over the Beijing Ducks on Wednesday night, Chinese media began reporting the former Denver Nugget had decided to opt out of the remainder of his contract with the Lions and would return the US before the NBA trading deadline on March 1. (Ed. Note: the deadline is actually March 15)….
The answer from Chandler’s Chinese agent, Zhao Gang, was far more solid.
“No, he won’t play (in the playoffs or All-Star Game),” Zhao told China Daily before Luchey’s response was received.
Lions’ officials said the team won’t force the restricted free agent to fulfill his deal.
“We prefer to let him make the decision. If he wants to continue with his duties here, we’ll be happy. But if he wants to leave, we will release him, as he might play with a bad mood in the playoff if we keep him compulsively,” Lions general manager Ye Xiangyu told Zhejiang media after talking with other team executives on Wednesday night.
Chandler is a restricted free agent — other teams can put in bids on him but the Nuggets have the right to match. And they almost certainly would. Chandler is going to end up a Nugget, but that’s a team who could use him right now as they struggle with Danilo Gallinari out injured.
They may get him back sooner rather than later.