Tyson Chandler Trade Allows Thunder To Upgrade Defense

Brandon NealCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2009

In a swap that many would consider unfair or downright ridiculous, the Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired center Tyson Chandler from the New Orleans Hornets. Chandler was traded for center Chris Wilcox, veteran forward Joe Smith, and the rights to rookie forward DeVon Hardin.

Hornets GM Jeff Bower stated that the decision was made primarily because the team wasn't running the floor well enough and found themselves having trouble rebounding the ball to set up transition baskets. However, there's also the idea that the expiring contracts of both Smith and Wilcox will assist the franchise in dipping below the salary cap, which is expected to decrease slightly due to recent economic troubles.

After finishing 8-8 in their last 16 games before All-Star Weekend, a Kevin Durant-led Thunder squad has found themselves 25th in the league in points allowed, 25th in opponents' field goal percentage, and sitting next to the Clippers and Kings for the Western Conference's worst record.

However, despite those particular defensive setbacks, the Thunder are fifth in the NBA in rebounding, which is believed to be Chandler's specialty.

The positive effect from the Chandler trade may not have much of an impact just yet for the Thunder. Chandler, who is coming off of an ankle injury that has seemingly glued his shoes to the court, is struggling both offensively and defensively, and his numbers are showing just that.

After averaging a career-high 11.8 points per game last season, as well as an impressive 11.8 rebounds, Chandler has posted just 8.8 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game, with his field goal percentage dropping a significant six percent.

Thunder fans can be assured that a healthy Chandler will boost team morale and encourage a stronger defensive effort, something this franchise has long desired for since losing former NBA guard Gary Payton six years ago.

New Orleans, who some feel are a disappointment after their surprising second place finish in last year's Western Conference playoff race, gain two pieces that may be able to help them immediately.

Wilcox and Smith won't impact New Orleans like Tyson Chandler did last season—connecting with guard Chris Paul for more than 100 alley-oops —but the strength and rebounding by Wilcox and the veteran leadership and mid-range game of Smith can only help them clinch a top four seed in the West.


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