Forward Wilson Chandler is on track to return to the Denver Nuggets rotation tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, the team announced Monday.
Chandler missed Denver’s last three games with low back pain and has been experiencing discomfort in his back for the better part of the last two weeks. The 30-year-old missed Denver’s Nov. 20 win over Sacramento with the injury, played 27 minutes in Houston two nights later and logged another 23 minutes in Memphis on Nov. 24. Chandler started against the Grizzlies but did not log any fourth quarter minutes.
“I think with that kind of injury it’s probably going to be a lot of management day-to-day,” Nuggets coach Malone said referring to Chandler’s back. “What you don’t want and what’s probably in the back of Wilson’s mind is feeling better and I come back and suddenly I’m all the way back down again. I think he wants to get it to a point where he feels like he can play throughout and not just be in one game out the other because that’s hard for him, hard for the team. I think with that kind of injury its something we have to monitor throughout the season.”
If healthy, Chandler would likely reclaim his starting spot at small forward alongside Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Kenneth Faried and Mason Plumlee. Richard Jefferson, who’s logged 12 and 14 minutes respectively in Chandler’s absence over Denver’s past two games, could get dropped from the Nuggets’ rotation. Juancho Hernangomez would likely shift back to a bench role if Chandler does play tonight in Dallas.
Chandler is averaging a career-low 8.8 points per game this season. He’s also shooting just 43.3 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from three. Denver will need his offense without Nikola Jokic (ankle) and Paul Millsap (wrist), both of whom won’t play against the Mavericks.
The Nuggets are hoping that Jokic is able to get back on the court towards the middle or end of their current six-game road trip. Denver has not announced a timeline for Millsap to return following left wrist surgery on Nov. 26. The Nuggets have said they expect Millsap to “miss the next several months” and that his return will be dependent upon how his rehab progresses.