Breaking News: Tyson Chandler traded to Thunder

Published: February 17, 2009

This just in from More as I hear it.

The Thunder has acquired center Tyson Chandler from New Orleans in exchange for Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith, according to a league source with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Thunder will also include the draft rights to Devon Hardin, the 50th overall pick in the 2008 draft.

ESPN are reporting that deal has not yet been finalized, but is likely to be done later today. Update: ESPN says it’s a done deal.

OKC blog Daily Thunder is also keeping a close eye on this story, so check there for additional updates. Earlier today Royce Young from Daily Thunder gave me his thoughts on the trade rumor:

This deal almost makes too much sense for Oklahoma City. It makes so much sense that I feel like the Hornets won’t go for it. And it makes so much sense that I’d be willing to throw in a little more incentive as well. For the Thunder, they’re desperately in need of a big man that rebounds and plays defense. Right now, Nick Collison is starting at center and is playing horribly out of position. He’s a solid four, but for instance against the Lakers, Pau Gasol absolutely abused him. Nenad Krstic is a jump shooter and a decent post player but he’s not an enforcer in the paint. OKC needs a guy like Chandler and New Orleans needs to dump a little salary. Makes sense. But are Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox enough for Tyson Chandler? I don’t know but if I’m Sam Presti, I’m throwing one of OKC’s many draft picks in there to sweeten the pot.

My initial thoughts: This really sucks, but I’m not sure Jeff Bower had much choice. With the economy the way it is, we were suddenly looking at a significant luxury tax penalty next season unless we could shed salary in a hurry. Tyson Chandler was our best trade chip due to his sizeable contract and the high demand for such a big man.

So the Hornets have acheived their goal of shedding salary. Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox come off the books this summer.

Of course, the real downside of this is that we definitely took a step back as a team. The Hornets’ interior D was undeniably weak with Tyson out injured, and neither Smith nor Wilcox will be able to defend the paint quite like TC could. Offensively, that pair might combine to give us a few more points than Tyson, but my guess is that they won’t be running the pick and roll with Chris Paul anywhere near as well as Tyson could.

What little faith I did have that the Hornets could compete for a championship this season? It’s dead and gone.

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