For a team that had trouble finding a solution at power forward last season, the Nets suddenly have a glut at the position, even with Kevin Durant on the shelf for possibly the entire season while recovering from right Achilles tendon surgery.
Part of the solution was the signing of 11-year veteran Wilson Chandler as a free agent to provide the three-point shooting coach Kenny Atkinson wants at the position.
But Chandler now finds himself in a tenuous spot because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and received a 25-game suspension to start the season. That makes the four-game preseason schedule that begins against SESI/Franca of Brazil on Friday night at Barclays Center a vital proving ground for him.
The Nets had a day off on Thursday, but Chandler, 32, was very frank on media day about his suspension, taking responsibility for using a supplement that he didn’t realize contained a banned substance. “It’s definitely affected me in a negative way,” Chandler said. “It’s disheartening. I definitely wish I could take it back, but I can’t now. I’ll just try to move forward.
“I’ve talked to Kenny and Sean [Marks, the general manager]. Those guys have been great. They’ve shown me respect. Obviously, it’s a business, so you’ve got to do what’s best for the team. I definitely respect the decisions they made and still having me here.”
At the moment, Taurean Prince, who was acquired from the Hawks in June, is the projected starter at power forward. Rodions Kurucs, who finished last season as the starter, is the likely backup, but he faces a legal problem stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident and has a court date on Oct. 21.
Chandler figured to get in the mix at both forward positions along with rookie Nic Claxton. But Marks also signed Henry Ellenson to a two-way contract as a developmental player and later added Lance Thomas to the training camp roster. After the first five games, the Nets have a 20-game window during the rest of Chandler’s suspension to add another player, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Thomas is considered.
So it’s possible that Chandler will be playing for his job in the preseason. “It’s a tough situation to be in,” he said. “It’s very important to cement a role and just prove your value . . . The biggest thing is to make the open shots and play defense.”
After working out with many of the Nets during the summer, including Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen, Chandler is impressed.
“Man, we’ve got some of the best talent,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can create shots for themselves and others. Spencer can do it, Kyrie can do it on a bigger level, and a lot of other guys can do it like Caris. It opens up the game for a lot of guys like Joe and myself and Prince.
“If we can just make it jell, it will be good. I think it’s just letting everybody be themselves, not trying to harness it too much or control the players too much. With Spencer, Caris and Kyrie, it’s kind of like art, the way they play. We’re just trying to play off those guys.”