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Kennedy Chandler signs record-breaking deal for American-born second-round pick

Perhaps Chandler’s draft-night slide was just him falling up

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round Indianapolis- Michigan at Tennessee Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA Summer League tipping off, former Tennessee Volunteers point guard Kennedy Chandler set a record Tuesday night, and it wasn’t even on the basketball court.

Projected to be a first-round pick, Chandler fell to the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Although it was disappointing, it seems like he’s doing just fine (and landed in the perfect spot). The No. 38 overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, Chandler has signed a four-year, $7.1 million rookie deal, with $4.94 million guaranteed, which is the largest guaranteed salary for an American second-round pick, according to NBA Insider Shams Charania.

Falling to the second round was certainly not what Chandler was expecting, but the Grizzlies seemed to have been a perfect landing spot for the rookie. He not only gets to represent Memphis, the city he grew up in, but Chandler is also close friends with Grizzlies’ All-NBA point guard Ja Morant, who has quickly become one of the best point guards in the league. Not a bad guy to learn from, both on and off the court, right?

Although he will likely be behind Morant and Tyus Jones on the depth chart to start the season, it’s clear that the Grizzlies not only believe in the talent that Chandler possesses but his potential as well. The fact that he can learn from Morant on a daily basis will only help the former Vol.

During his lone season in Knoxville, Chandler averaged 13.9 points, 4.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 46.4% from the field and 38.3% from beyond the arc in 30.8 minutes per game. Named the SEC Tournament MVP, the star point guard led Tennessee to an NCAA Tournament berth as well.

Chandler’s $7.1 million rookie deal isn’t as much as he would have made if he was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, the $4.94 million in guaranteed money is more than the players selected near the end of the first round will receive. To be able to make that type of money and represent your hometown? Sounds like a good combination for a 19-year-old.

Tuesday was quite the day for Chandler. He not only earned quite a payday, securing the most guaranteed money for an American second-round pick in NBA history, but the rookie also made his Summer League debut as well. Chandler finished with eight points, four assists, four rebounds, and a game-high three blocks while shooting 4-of-8 from the field in 23 minutes.

Chandler’s late-game steal clinched the win for the Grizzlies to begin Summer League as well.

Not a bad Tuesday night for the rookie. It’s well-deserved, and the future is bright for Chandler.