SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- There is an element in the business side of the NBA that often goes overlooked and under-reported, mainly because it has little impact on the game and almost zero affect on the fans. But it exists and it can get messy and Wilson Chandler is experiencing it right now.
Chris Luchey, who has represented Chandler since he entered the NBA Draft in 2007, confirmed to Newsday that he has been let go. Luchey called it "amicable" and said he had "no ill will" toward Chandler, which is an interesting choice of words considering "Ill Wil" is one of Chandler's nicknames.
"We'll have a personal relationship that will continue for a lifetime," Luchey added.
The bottom line is, Chandler fired his agent. And this is a tough loss for Luchey, who had to accept Donnie Walsh's decision to not offer Chandler a contract extension in the fall. Walsh wanted to maintain salary cap flexibility, though he has consistently said he planned to sign Chandler in the summer. Walsh may not get that opportunity, however, if he includes Chandler in a trade for Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks want to keep Chandler, who is a favorite of the coaching staff for his coachability and very quiet, hardworking demeanor (not to mention his steadily improving talent), and his status as a restricted free agent might actually be what keeps him in New York. The Nuggets like Chandler as a talent, but there is concerned about what they'd have to pay him as a restricted free agent. Luchey was looking for money similar to the five-year, $60 million deal Danny Granger signed with the Pacers in 2008.
Now if Chandler gets that kind of money, Luchey won't see a dime of the new contract, which will be negotiated by whomever represents Chandler next. That's part of the risk agents take with players, who have the right to fire their agent at any time. And that's also why a big part of this business is stealing clients, especially ones who are on the verge of a big payday and have a relatively small-time agent who, so far, hasn't gotten a deal done.
By rule he can't sign with another agent for two weeks, but you don't normally fire someone until you know who you want to hire as the replacement. According to the Daily News, Chandler is believed to be choosing from Carmelo's agent, Leon Rose, Dan Fegan, Arn Tellem, Andy Miller or even Amar'e Stoudemire's rep, Happy Walters. Note that every single one is a heavy hitter. It'll be interesting to see who emerges as his new agent and how that may play into trade talks with the Nuggets.
Luchey, who also represents Golden State rookie Ekpe Udoh, came under fire early this season when a report by Yahoo! Sports alleged that Luchey worked in cahoots with Knicks scout Rodney Heard to arrange for Chandler to work out exclusively for the Knicks. Chandler, the report said, worked out for a week under Heard's watch. Chandler did not work out with any other team in the pre-draft process, which he said was due to an ankle injury.
The Knicks drafted Chandler 23rd overall, which came as a surprise to many at the time. But by his third season, Chandler proved to be not only a keeper, but a promising young player who has emerged as one of the best from the 2007 draft class. He is averaging 17.4 points per game this season, which is second to only Kevin Durant (28.4) among '07 draftees and his career average of 14.1 points per game is tied for second among the '07 draftees with Jeff Green.
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* - From today's practice at the AT&T Center, Amar'e Stoudemire called tomorrow's game against the Spurs "a must-win for us" because he said, "we're looking to break this losing streak. It would be a great, great win if we can get this tomorrow night." For the record, the Knicks haven't won in San Antonio since March 18, 2003, a span of seven straight games. . . . Mike D'Antoni spent the practice re-emphasizing the pick-and-roll, which has disappeared from the offense over the last four games. "It's been a long time since we've really had some great exchanges," D'Antoni said. "We tried to establish that today and get back to it a little bit. When we're really good, we have that kind of going first and everything plays off of it." . . . D'Antoni said he might change the starting lineup but would not commit to anything, therefore he would not elaborate on who he would send to the bench between Danilo Gallinari or Chandler if he decided to start Ronny Turiaf at center.
* - Anthony Randolph was present and participated in practice, despite an internet report that said he had been traded to the Pacers for a first-round pick. Randolph will likely be dealt before the Feb. 24 trade deadline and most likely for a first round pick which the Knicks would almost certainly use in any offer to the Nuggets for Carmelo. The Pacers, however, have 15 players so they'd first have to waive someone before they could add Randolph. They are also over the salary cap, but do have a trade exception. The Knicks have also talked to the Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers about moving Randolph.