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2018-19 Clippers Exit Interview: Wilson Chandler

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A veteran throw-in in the Tobias Harris trade, Wilson Chandler struggled in 19 overall games for the Clippers.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Key Information

Name: Wilson Chandler

Years in NBA: 11

Position: Small Forward

Key Stats: In 15 regular-season games (1 start), Chandler averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds on 34.8 percent shooting in 15.1 minutes per game. He played in four of the six Clippers’ playoff games, and averaged 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

2018-2019 Salary: $12,800,562

Future Contract Status: Wilson is an unrestricted free agent

Summary

It always felt like Wilson Chandler was destined to be a Clipper at some point in his career. The franchise finally got their guy, but it would have been better to have landed him five or six years ago when he was dropping an efficient 13 and 5 for the Denver Nuggets, especially during a Lob City era where the team was largely devoid of a solid small forward. The Clippers received the 11-year veteran in the trade heard round’ the NBA world on February 6 for Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Boban Marjanovic. At the time of the trade, Chandler had the worst scoring output of his career, and was bothered by nagging quad injuries that kept him out at the start of the season and during his arrival in L.A.

While he was a nice name to have on the roster, expectations for solid play were tepid at best. Sure, getting Chandler was good for depth and for the locker room, and he could maybe surprise in knocking down a few shots, providing bench muscle and experience. However, the reality is that Chandler, at 32, is not the same player he was in New York or Denver, and has lost several steps. While the Clippers definitely needed the wing depth that Chandler provided, Wilson’s lack of presence on the floor, his erratic shooting, slow foot speed, and seeming lack of any real fire or desire to be on the Clippers wasn’t great. I don’t think that Chandler necessarily hurt L.A. However, his ability to potentially help this team going into the playoffs was low. Doc didn’t even bother putting him in for two of the six playoff games against the Warriors. Chandler’s Clippers regular season splits of .348/.325/.714 effectively made him unplayable in a series where made shots were a premium, and he was a bad fit defensively as well.

A small sample size always makes for difficult scouting of one’s play. However, this season for the Clippers was a bit different. Just as we could see that Avery Bradley was bad about 10 games into the season (a sample size that should have stayed small), Chandler’s small sample size was just enough to know that his ineffectiveness would have probably continued, and that he’s not going to be an important member of this roster going forward.

Out of all the restricted and unrestricted free-agents that dotted this roster, especially out of the ones that came at the deadline, it became obvious that Chandler was the one that would probably be left behind due to his up-and-down (mostly down) play. Wilson was a low-risk, potentially mid-reward type get for the Clips. In the end, his addition wasn’t a bad idea, and getting his $12 million+ contract was imperative for the Sixers deal working. To only pay him for less than half a season to get a potential franchise player in Landry Shamet was worth it. His overall tenure here was below average, but it was a worthy swing and probably more like a foul-tip than a complete whiff.

Strengths

Chandler still has some strengths to his game for sure. He is an at least acceptable wing defender who is stocky and strong, able to guard multiple positions and switch onto larger players. He knows how to play in help, and can get his hands on passes. He also is a streaky shooter who, when hot, can knock down bunches of jumpers. A good example of this was the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks late in the season where he hit five threes. However, with Wilson’s injuries and age, he wasn’t really able to showcase any of these strengths particularly well for L.A. Chandler was brought in because the Sixers needed to get his contract out of Philly, and the Clippers wanted a veteran wing for depth, especially after the news that Luc Mbah A Moute was lost for the playoffs. Chandler’s one strength for L.A. was not being really bad. He didn’t hurt them too much and he didn’t really help either. It would have been nice to see someone like Ty Wallace or Jerome Robinson (which did happen in the playoffs) get some more burn in his place to up their confidence, but in the end, Chandler was mostly ineffectual in his short tenure in L.A rather than awful.

Weaknesses

Chandler, as mentioned prior, was hobbled by injuries to his legs. At 24, these injuries aren’t that hard to come back from, but at 32, they can noticeably effect your ability to move and make plays. When Chandler joined the Clippers lineup, he was visibly slower than in past years. His overall defensive rating of 111.2 over 15 regular season games was the third highest of his career, and it showed in a 2nd unit that wasn’t particularly strong defensively to begin with. He had trouble keeping his man in front of him and staying engaged. He just didn’t look like his normal self all season (even with Philly), and definitely could use a healthy, relaxing summer.

Also, am I the only one who ultimately thought that Chandler didn’t really want to be in L.A.? His body language was never very “up”, and he wasn’t vocal. The best quote I could find from him about his Clippers tenure was from our own Farbod Esnaashari when asked about what Clippers fans can expect from him.

“Just a guy that plays hard. I’ll do whatever Doc needs me to do, and fit in with the guys. Try to be a glue guy.”

That sounds good and all, but his glue guy status diminished as the games went along and he was never the first guy off the bench to congratulate teammates or celebrate. This is a bit nit-picky, but on such a close team that prided themselves on chemistry and toughness, Chandler didn’t really show either.

Future with the Clippers

I don’t think there is much of one. Chandler will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is coming off his worst season as a pro. He is now an injured 32-year-old whose effectiveness as a solid rotation player is debatable at best. Yes, the Clippers need wing depth right now, but that will more than likely change this summer. Also, other FA’s that the Clippers brought in — like JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple — impressed a lot more than Chandler did. The Clippers would rather spend the money to bring them back, along with Patrick Beverley, than an over-the-hill Chandler.

Overall grade: D

Again, I think Chandler’s biggest strength in his 19 games in L.A. was not being that bad: he was more of a body out there than anything. He knocked down a bucket here and there, played some defense, and provided some veteran wisdom. However, it would have been nice to see him be more consistent with his jumper, and actually give some good minutes in the playoffs. Instead, we saw a lot of clanks, some olé defense and again, a guy that didn’t seem like he was totally bought in.