Tyson Chandler Deal Reportedly Completed by Thunder, Bobcats

Walker DanielsCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2009

The New Orleans Hornets won 56 games last year, and with a young roster the general feeling was that another year of experience together would build them into a true Western Conference powerhouse. Even bettors bought the hype, as the sportsbook odds for the Hornets had them among the top three teams to win the Western Conference.

They haven't met those lofty expectations in the 2008-09, as they are on pace to win fewer games and, as a whole, look fairly vulnerable in the West.

What's peculiar about this move is that the Hornets rank dead-last in the NBA in rebounding, yet they traded their center who has averaged nearly 10 per game during his career.

Watching the Hornets play, it is pretty clear that interior defense and rebounding have been their two biggest faults this season. And now they've traded a player who—when healthy—alleviated both concerns.

Chandler, for his career, has averaged 8.2 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks per game. But instead of Chandler, the Hornets have now loaded their power forward position with players who won't see the court while David West is healthy.

On the surface, it makes no sense for the Hornets to trade a player who can play alongside West for two players who cannot, while leaving a vacancy at center.

But the reality is that this move has to do with salary cap space. The Hornets no longer feel like paying Chandler the $25 million he's owed in the next two years beyond this season and they can get that money back since the contracts of both Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox will be expiring at season's end.

Also, the Hornets probably figure that they have a former first-round pick in Hilton Armstrong, who can fill in for Chandler, but that's debatable.

Sportsbook odds have been dropping and dropping as the public seems to have less faith in the Hornets for NBA betting. The Hornets are 2-6 both straight up and against the spread in their last eight games.

It's odd to see a team that is trying to win an NBA Championship trade an asset for cap space. The two goals are converging. Are they going for a championship or are they trying to save money by downgrading?

Not that the Hornets were a serious player in the West before, but now for sure they aren't going to be much of a factor in the NBA Championship unless the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs fail in front of them. For those who bet sports, this trade is a red flag to stay away from them.