Reactions to the untrading of Tyson Chandler

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Published: February 19, 2009

With the Chandler-to-OKC deal having been nixed, here’s another heavy batch of news and opinions from around the web. I’ll probably be back with a Part II if nothing else happens before the 2 p.m. Central trade deadline.

From Chris Broussard and Marc Stein at ESPN.com:

After examining Chandler’s left big toe, Dr. Carlan Yates, Oklahoma City’s team physician, determined that the risk of re-injury was too great to give Chandler a clean bill of health. He therefore advised the Thunder to rescind Tuesday’s trade that landed them Chandler for Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox and the rights to Devon Hardin.

“This is absolutely crazy,” Chandler said in a telephone conversation Wednesday night. “I’m super shocked. This is nuts.”

Chandler, 26, was baffled by Yates’ ruling in part because Yates performed surgery on Chandler’s big left toe in April of 2007 when the Hornets were playing in Oklahoma City. Chandler played 79 games the following season and while he’s missed 19 games this season, none have been because of his toe.

“He said he doesn’t know how long I’ll last,” Chandler said in reference to Yates. “He told me, ‘I have no doubt you can play on it. I’m just saying it could take a turn for the worse if you come down on somebody’s foot or hyperextend it or something.'”

Also from that story:

Chandler said he initially planned to return from his ankle injury within the next three games because he felt the Hornets were slipping in the standings without him.

“But after all this, I’m not rushing back,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent yet, so I think its best just to get healthy.”

Hornets GM Jeff Bower in a press release:

“We welcome Tyson back with open arms,” said Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower. “We went into this trade to garner more frontcourt depth to add to our team as we continue our push towards the playoffs. We expect Tyson and the rest of our big guys to step up to the challenge.”

Brett Pollakoff reacts to Bower’s words over at Fanhouse:

There isn’t much truth there, except the part about expecting Chandler and the rest of the team’s bigs to step up. I mean, when the players themselves are grumbling to the media that the trade isn’t an improvement and is simply a cost-cutting move, you can be assured that’s exactly what was going on.

From Henry Abbott at TrueHoop:

And don’t you think the Hornets wish, now, that they would have admitted the trade was about money? Instead, they told everyone they really wanted Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox. But hey, Tyson, buddy … we didn’t really mean that.

I wonder if perhaps we also learn a little something about why the Hornets may have been willing to make a lopsided trade. Not that they were trying to dupe the Thunder, but if the medical staff has long-term worries about Chandler, then that might be one more reason to make a move.

And while Thunder fans are the ones hanging their heads tonight, I wonder whether it isn’t Hornets fans who find themselves in the bigger pickle. Now we know the Hornets — a team on delicate financial footing — are likely to be spending more than they think they should, and a lot of that will be going to a big man who has some kind of long-term health concerns. And even with a healthy Chandler, the Hornets needed another quality big man. The future was annoying after the cost-cutting trade that would cost the team a year of contention. But now, with money and health problems, the joy of Chandler’s return has to be laced with a couple of profound new worries.

Alejandro de los Rios at the Best of New Orleans Blog:

Officially, though, the Hornets are sticking with their original story that the trade was a basketball decision intended to give New Orleans depth in the front. As coach Byron Scott pointed out after tonight’s game, “we’re still dead last in the league in rebounds. That’s something that we weren’t last year.”

More quotes via the Big Easy Buzz Blog:

Byron Scott

Q: Are you shocked?
Scott: I knew it was a possibility. From talking to Jeff (Bower) yesterday, I knew it was possible. So I wasn’t too shocked.

Q: You talked about how happy you are to have him back, but are you still a little concerned about the frontcourt depth?
Scott: Definitely. I’m definitely concerned about it. I thought Jeff Bower made a good point to our guys that it was strictly a basketball decision, based on what we needed, and our disappointment in some of the guys we (already) have. That hasn’t changed. Obviously with Tyson coming back, we need to be a lot more focused, a lot more aggressive and a lot tougher than we have been in the first 50-plus games. We were able to do it with pretty much the same group last year, so there’s no reason why we can’t. It’s just a matter of guys being focused and determined to play big.

Q: Is there anything specific you say to Tyson?
Scott: I will say two words to him: Welcome back. Now let’s get healthy and get back to it.

David West

On integrating Chandler back into the lineup:
We’ll get him re-acclimated. He’s only been gone a day. [grins]

Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman has words from Thunder GM Sam Presti:

“Yesterday, we were excited to add Tyson, but at the same time, we have to make tough decisions,” Presti said. “There were some things in the medical process, and outside consultants, that gave us some concern.”

“We have to listen to the people (conducting) our medicals,” Presti said. “We feel the right decision for us was to move in another direction. We’re disappointed it did not work out. At the same time, we look forward to having both Chris and Joe back in Thunder uniforms.”

John DeShazier in this morning’s Times-Picayune:

“I’ll say two words: Welcome back,” Coach Byron Scott said.

Welcome back to a team that will need his rebounding and defensive presence to take off and make an impact in the playoffs.

What was reassuring, though, was the professionalism showed by the Hornets as they took care of business in the two days surrounding the announcement of the Chandler trade to Oklahoma City. Their second consecutive victory since the All-Star break provided ample evidence they can separate the business side of the game from the personal side.

Royce Young at Daily Thunder.com:

This deal was done and done. “Pending a physical” pretty much means, “Which side of the clubhouse do you want your locker to be on?” Tyson Chandler was coming back to OKC. He’d even Twittered about it. Twitter! I plugged his website for crying out loud. But then the whole thing blew up over a turf toe. How about that for a wooden spoon to the krispy nads?

But here’s the thing: It’s not like our entire future hinged on Tyson Chandler. He was just a piece to the puzzle. Everyone could already see that our future was incredibly bright with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and company. While obviously adding Chandler to the mix made things much better much quicker, it’s not the end of the world. And in fact, we’re lucky this thing didn’t go through and all of sudden were sitting here with a lame big man making $11 million sitting on the end of the bench. We really don’t need another Robert Swift. We’ve got talented but injury-riddled big man covered, thanks.

You’ve got to assume this is a pretty serious injury. I don’t think Presti rescinds the deal over just a “lingering turf toe.

(FYI: Here’s Tyson on Twitter.)

ticktock6 at Hornets Hype:

I have no clue how I feel right now. So really, I am just going to put a whole bunch of emotions on little pieces of paper into a hat. And then, you know, we can just go with whatever gets picked, and pretend that’s what I said.

  • Elated
  • Ecstatic
  • Hopeful
  • Worried
  • Confused
  • Uncertain
  • Optimistic
  • Regretful
  • Disbelieving
  • Nervous
  • WHOO!
  • WTF?

Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm (great headline to that story):

A trade that at least produced one happy party has been rescinded, and all of the happiness in the room went with it.  Any joy that goes along with Tyson’s return has been sapped by the elephant in the room, and it’s tough to say just how much his physical status could impact the Hornets’ outlook.  Maybe OKC is just enjoying the luxury of time for a team with low expectations.  Or maybe there is something legitimately problematic with Chandler’s wheel.  It does make for quite the leverage-killer though; Chandler’s curious injury status practically ensures his place in NOLA, barring some ridiculous, unspeakably lopsided trade.  That likely means that the Hornets will be active until the final bell tolls on the trade deadline this afternoon, trying desperately to clear enough salary to duck under the luxury tax line.

David Schexnaydre Jr. for NOLA.com:

Looking at just the basketball aspect of Tyson returning still leaves big question marks. How bad is his injury? Could he have passed the physical in another week? This injury has to be much more serious than what the Hornets have made known. If your remember, they were initially talking about Tyson coming back to join the team in time for the San Antonio Spurs game on January 31. Obviously he didn’t suit up for that game, but more importantly, we haven’t heard anything else about his return since then. The closest we’ve gotten to an answer is “sometime after the Break.” Really? So he’s returning sometime between February and April? Got it, thanks.

And then, even if he is healthy and can play, which Tyson will show up? Will it be the Tyson that can match up against Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan? Or will it be the Tyson who has sometimes looked overmatched by inferior competition? Will we get the Tyson that made a routine habit out of pulling down 14 and 15 boards a game? Or will we get the Tyson was averaging under 5 defensive rebounds per game when he was traded? Are we going to get the Tyson that could be a dominant force down low and erase the mistakes of others with his length and shot blocking ability? Or are we going to get the Tyson that disappeared for stretches of games at a time and wasn’t even the leading shot blocker on the team when he was traded?

Reacting to all these salary-dump-inspired deals and trade rumors, ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande has a suggestion:

Here’s a more serious proposal: abolish the luxury tax. It was an artificial creation in the first place, implemented to keep big spenders from overwhelming the league, designed in part because the owners couldn’t be counted on to exercise fiscal responsibility all on their own. Now that the real world has encroached on the NBA the desire to save money, they can keep payrolls down naturally. Teams won’t spend what they literally don’t have. No need to add punitive taxes that have become the driving force behind the trade market.

It’s one thing to create cap space. At least that brings the hope of signing better players one day. There’s no excitement generated by slipping below the tax threshold, unless you’re one of those people who gets thrills from reading a spreadsheet file.

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