Wilson Chandler expected to start practicing in January

Think back. When the Carmelo Anthony trade happened 22 months ago, one could have argued that the two best gets were Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Sure enough, Gallo is now the Nuggets’ leading scorer, while Chandler, um, is he still even with the Nuggets?

Chandler’s peculiar journey, which has taken him to China and under the knife, will finally take him back to the practice court. Denver expects forward Chandler, as well as backup point guard Julyan Stone, to return to practice in the first week of 2013.

Both players underwent similar hip surgeries during the summer. Chandler, whose surgery happened first, returned to the Nuggets earlier this season but played just four games, averaging 6.5 points. The 6-foot-8 forward, now 25, then sat out every game since Nov. 12 to rest and rehabilitate his hip and groin.

Asked recently about Chandler, coach George Karl said: “I don’t think he’s playing in the near future. He might be playing in practice (come Jan. 1).”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of theĀ Denver Post