Nets forward Wilson Chandler on Sunday became the fifth healthy NBA player to opt out of participating in the league’s planned restart in July in a “bubble” concept at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The move creates an opening on the Nets’ 15-man roster, and they are expected to fill it with forward Justin Anderson on Wednesday when teams may begin signing players.
Both developments first were reported by ESPN and confirmed to Newsday by an NBA source. According to a report by ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Chandler cited “family reasons,” for his decision. He has three children and is concerned about spending time with the grandmother who raised him.
“As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first,” Chandler told Andrews. “Thank you to the Nets’ organization for understanding and supporting me in this decision, and I will be watching and rooting for our team in Orlando.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Florida hard in recent days with record numbers of cases. Although the NBA has taken extraordinary steps to protect athletes and team personnel, starting July 7, when teams begin arriving, there are no guarantees.
Chandler joins the Trail Blazers’ Trevor Ariza, the Wizards’ Davis Bertans, the Lakers’ Avery Bradley and the Mavericks’ Willie Cauley-Stein on the list of healthy players opting out. Chandler previously expressed concern the re-start might take attention away from social justice protests sweeping the nation.
On June 23, Chandler took to Twitter to support injured teammate Kyrie Irving on that subject, saying, “Crazy to me how fans, ex-players and players criticized Kyrie for voicing his opinion. A opinion that wasn’t wrong at all . . . With everything that’s going on from police brutality to covid, he had the backbone to speak his mind. Whether I’m on the court playing or not, I respect his opinion.”
Chandler averaged 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game, but forwards Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs are expected to take most of his minutes. Anderson played three games with the Nets on a 10-day deal in January and also led the Long Island Nets with a 20.5 scoring average in 16 G League games with them.