NOVAK: Former Tiger Chandler mades the right call in opting out

I applaud former Benton Harbor standout Wilson Chandler for putting his family first.

In a time when career often trumps one’s own personal well-being, Wilson, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, informed the National Basketball Association team that he would not be traveling to Orlando, Florida, when the league resumes play in July.

Instead, Chandler, who has a one-year deal with the Nets, has chosen to stay home with his family to keep them and himself safe.

I would have expected more players to voice their concerns about the experiment the NBA is about to undertake. It will finish the 2019-20 season in a “bubble” playing all of its games in Orlando. Players will be tested early and often, but there is no way of knowing for sure if that will be enough.

Numerous players have tested positive for COVID-19. They were exposed to it at the beginning of the pandemic, and they continue to be testing positive as the league heads toward its opening midway through July.

The reason I applaud Chandler is that he is willing to sacrifice his paycheck for his family. I can only assume that he is financially well-off enough to overcome the loss of income for the remainder of this season. He will lose between $200,000 and $300,000 depending on how far the Nets advance this season.

He will lose at least $1.2 million of his $2.3 million salary. He also lost money serving a suspension at the beginning of the season after testing positive for a banned substance.

Chandler certainly will be missed by the Nets. He started the final three games, all victories for Brooklyn. His departure seems to have been a surprise for the team, who resigned a player and released another to restructure their roster before returning to play. The Nets then signed Justin Anderson to fill Chandler’s spot.

In a tweet, Chandler thanked his teammates and the Nets for understanding his decision. He said he plans to be watching and rooting for Brooklyn while they play in Orlando.

Chandler will be a free agent at the end of the season. It seems a consensus that he would have been moving on from the Nets anyway.

But you have to wonder, will this affect his free agency? Will teams be less likely to sign him knowing that his family is more important than basketball? I would hope not, but in the world we currently live in, I would be a fool to think that it will not cross the minds of general managers this offseason.

Whatever the future holds for Chandler, I will always be a fan. He made the tough choice that many people have had to make about their careers versus their families. In my estimation, he made the right choice. No one should question it.

If I were an NBA general manager, I would want a guy like that on my team. He showed his true character. I wish more people would.

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.

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