In search of a two-way spot on the Nets roster, Kennedy Chandler has already faced another two strikes. He has only one left.
Finishing in last place would be a home run for Chandler, keeping him in the NBA and giving him a chance to be the success story of Brooklyn’s latest reclamation project. Losing it would be a bitter pill to swallow, despite the fact that he is still owed money from the Grizzlies, who waived him after his rookie season in April. Because if you ask Chandler, he’ll tell you it’s not about the cash.
It’s about the game, and about getting back to it.
“Yeah, that’s the whole purpose of me playing this summer. I want to play every single game, hit it, dominate whoever is in front of me,” Chandler said during his summer league stint with the Nets. “And honestly, don’t just worry about yourself. You just worry about what I can do; Then other things will come.
“My agent will do what he will do, and I’m going to do what I do. I told him that I am going to do my work, you do yours.
During his stay in Las Vegas, Chandler continued to do what he does well; It is moving towards change with its impressive speed and is moving towards the slope. But it’s something the young point guard has been inconsistent with that could keep him from landing Brooklyn’s last open two-way spot behind rookies Jalen Wilson and Armoni Brooks.
It’s that unstable jumper. With Chandler, it always comes back to the jumper.
It’s no coincidence that Brooks and Wilson lead the summer league team in 3-point shooting at .476 and .458, respectively. The former’s 20 3-pointers were second most in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately for Chandler, he’s on the other end of that spectrum. wrong end.
After struggling through a low performance of 2-of-14 from 3-point range in Las Vegas — including a 1-of-6 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Brooklyn’s Summer League semifinal loss, it’s still a huge issue.
“Yeah, I think it’s always trusting his shot,” Nets assistant Trevor Hendry, who served as the summer league team’s head coach, said.
“He took a wing right in front of our bench (last week). I loved it. Keep shooting it. I have full confidence in him that he will shoot the 3 and make the 3, it doesn’t matter if it’s in games here, in the preseason, wherever he goes next. That’s the thing for me, his 3-point shot; Because that’s the only thing that’s stopping him.”
It was essentially the one thing that kept him in Memphis – and sealed his exit from Memphis.
Chandler arrived there as an in-state star. He played as a freshman at Tennessee and became friends with franchise player Ja Morant in the previous year’s NBA draft, when he was expected to be selected in the first round. Concerns over his lack of size – and even more so his lack of an outside shot – saw him dropped in the second round.
Getting Around in (and Out of) Memphis
Technically drafted by San Antonio at no. 38 overall, the Grizzlies gave up a second rounder and $1 million in cash to acquire Chandler. To show how much they value the guard, Memphis signed him to a four-year contract, $7.1 million (the most for any second rounder last year), three years and $4.9 million guaranteed.
It was a huge investment, which yielded no returns.
Chandler had only 36 ineffective appearances as a rookie, eventually being released.
He is still owed $3.7 million by the Grizzlies – $1.7 million this coming season, another $2.1 million next season. And he still has his distinctive athleticism, blazing speed and skywalking 41 ½-inch vertical that he displayed at the 2022 NBA Draft Combine.
It’s easy to see why Brooklyn — going back to its player development roots — would take a flier on Chandler, who is still just 20 years old and has plenty of room for development.
But after shooting just .133 from 3-point range for Memphis as a rookie and .207 in the G League last year, Chandler was even worse for Brooklyn in the summer league, at .143. Listed liberally at 6-feet, these types of shooting problems can make it difficult for shooters to survive in the league’s NBA.
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Chandler did a little bit of everything else in Las Vegas, averaging 14.0 points, 5.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds (belying his size) and even 2.0 steals.
,[The key was] Don’t rush,” Chandler said. “I didn’t get a lot of minutes as a rookie; It was a learning year for me, learning from Tyus (Jones) and Jay. So I can certainly thank Tyus and Jay for lecturing me – especially Tyus, of course.
“I sat next to [Jones] Plane ride after the game, on the way to the game. So we talked a lot about basketball and he was a good mentor to me, him and Jaa. So the next day I saw him and said to him, [I] Don’t just watch the game; Watch what they do on the court, watch what they watch, what they read. I think it was a year of learning for me and now this year I will get to show it.
Chandler hit .357 overall and finished a solid plus-9; But he has to prove that he can be more accurate.
The task became more difficult in Las Vegas as teams unnecessarily harassed and pressured him until the semi-finals.
“I’m trying,” Chandler said. “I wanted to prove, I wanted to show. [But] If a team, a player keeps putting pressure on me, I have to beat him to the bottom; So if they don’t know Scout, it’s up to them.
“Not saying they don’t know to scout, but I’m going to use my advantage, my God-given speed to go downhill and find my teammates open. But when there is 3 balls, I will take it.
Chandler took him to summer league; But missing a dozen of the 14 attempts he made didn’t help his cause. Nevertheless, the point guard maintains that he is capable of attacking them; He just has to convince the Nets, or any other team looking at him.
“Probably my percentage of last year [wasn’t great], But I barely played. “Probably once every 10 games I shot it, or once every 20 games I shot a 3,” Chandler said. “So I don’t really judge from last year’s percentage on how I can shoot. I know I can shoot the ball. But if the teams keep on pressuring me, I will go down the drain.
But where? and for?
brooklyn or bust
Brooks and Wilson – who look like a steal with 51scheduled tribe The overall selection and his potential to become a regular part of the rotation as a 3-and-D weapon – both included in two-way contracts. Burley forward Raequan Gray was seeded third, but was dropped after a poor performance in Las Vegas to open up a spot.
But has Chandler done enough to deserve it?
It probably depends on things beyond his control, such as who else might be available.
For Chandler, the Nets’ past success in turning D’Angelo Russell into an All-Star and Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris from forgiven castoffs into well-paid viable starters is a selling point. But could he follow a similar trajectory by signing directly with G League Long Island instead of Brooklyn? Or getting offers elsewhere?
At this point, can Chandler show general manager Shawn Marks anything else, either positively or negatively? Or does it depend on what else is available on the market this summer?
“I mean, I’m not sure,” Hendry said. “I think this thing is out of our control.”
And for now, out of Chandler.