I'm sure you've heard, by now, about the acquistion of Tyson Chandler, hell, if you are reading this post on the front page of the site, you may have already scrolled down a bit and the saw the article about it yesterday. I didn't get too far into analyzing the trade yesterday. due to time constraints. So today, I'm going give you plenty of thoughts as to why this wasn't just a "good" trade for the Thunder...it was a GREAT trade.
Before we get into anything else, here are the details of the trade. Oklahoma City recieves Tyson Chandler, a 7 foot center from the New Orleans Hornets. In return the Thunder gave the Hornets Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, and the rights to DeVon Hardin.
The acquisition of Tyson Chandler will give the Thunder a defensive presence in the middle over the next couple of seasons, which is something that the Thunder have failed to develop on their own. Chandler is under contract through the 2009-2010 season, with a player option for 2010-2011. He's still a young player, at 26, but has the experience some of these young guys need on the floor to be successful. With as much as the Thunder lack in defense, having him on the inside will be an immediate help, as long as he is healthy.
His potential is pretty high, and over the past couple of season has seen steady improvements each year, until this year, a year that he's been hampered by injuries. He's still averaging 8 points and rebounds per game this season, but thats down dramatically from his 12 and 12 last season. I would expect his numbers to go up after joining the Thunder since Oklahoma City doesn't really have anyone dominant on the inside like he's capable of being. I'm more excited to see a fully healthy Tyson Chandler next season, than an ailing Tyson this season. I personally just don't think a player can be fully effective in the NBA if he's dealing with foot/ankle injuries as he otherwise would be. His numbers, in my opinion, are a result of his being banged up.
So out of this deal, we get a 7 foot center, who provides a good defensive presence on the inside, and when healthy has the potential to be dominant against a lot of teams. Make no mistake, he is a huge improvement over anything the Thunder/Sonics orginization have had at the Center position in years. Pair him up with Nenan Krstic and the Thunder have a solid center combination. His acquisition would also enable Nick Collison to come off the bench to the forward position, instead of the center position, depending on how Scott Brooks wants to slide the rotations around.
So what did we lose? First up, Chris "Weezy" Wilcox. More than anything, the biggest thing we gave up was hearing fans in Loud City scream "Come on Weezy!" as Wilcox prepared to shoot a free throw. His nickname will be missed more than he will. Wilcox has steadily worked his way OUT of the rotation over the course of the season, and before this trade went down, wasn't seeing much, if any, playing time. His contract was also up at the end of the season, and the Thunder had no plans on trying to sign him to an extension or a free agent contract.
Next up Joe Smith. Joe Smith started off the year as a nice addition to the team (Although he was acquired just as much for his expiring contract as anything else). However, over the course of the season, he's been battling injuries off and on. Even when he wasn't injured he was a bench guy who averaged just 6 points and 4 boards in 19 minutes per game (36 games). His contract is also up at the end of the season (like Wilcox), and the Thunder had no interest in signing him to an extension or to a free agent contract. So once again, we lose a player who had no future in this orginization.
Finally, DeVon Hardin. DeVon is a guy who the Thunder drafted at #50 overall in last years draft but had not signed to a contract. Hardin looks like he's built for the NBA body wise, but he has a LONG way to go before he can be effective for an NBA team. He was released by a Turkish team in September 2008 because of a nagging injury. Honestly, no big loss here for the Thunder.
So all in all you give up 2 guys who were not going to be with the team after this season anyway, plus the rights to a player who may not ever see an NBA roster for a proven Center who is who is defensive minded, and when healthy can provide excellent offensive numbers and rebound totals. We didn't even have to give up any of our stockpiled first round draft picks either. There really is NO downside to this deal for the Thunder if Chandler can keep himself healthy.
Welcome to Loud City Tyson! We're happy to have you back in OKC!