Dr. Trade: Musings on Hornets / Bobcats and Wolves / Thunder Trades

Joel C. CordesNBA Associate EditorJuly 28, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 18:  Emeka Okafor #50 of the Charlotte Bobcats makes a shot over Tyson Chandler #6 of the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena January 18, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Hornets defeated the Bobcats 112-84. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

I've already been contacted a number of times this morning by Charlotte and New Orleans’ fans who are wanting to know why their worlds had to be turned upside down overnight. 

Let's not forget that many Minnesota and Oklahoma City fans feel the same way after the blockbuster Etan Thomas for Chucky Atkins/Damien Wilkens trade...  Wait... Nobody is feeling that way? 

Have no fear, I'll still comment a little bit on that deal as well.  Here we go, it's time for more expert-level analysis on the Dr. Trade feature!


Pending Trade:

C Tyson Chandler to Charlotte

C Emeka Okafor to New Orleans

Much has already been written about this morning's deal that many sources are claiming is "as good as done."  I don't want to tread where others have trod, but I also don't want to leave anybody in the dark.

Here are the basic reasons why a large number of fans and/or pundits do not like this proposed trade -

From Charlotte's side:  Isn't Tyson Chandler more expensive for us this year?  Isn't he a lot more limited offensively than the somewhat offensively limited Emeka Okafor?  Doesn't he also have a more recent problem with nagging injuries than Okafor?

From New Orleans’s side: Isn't Emeka Okafor's contract only about $1 million less per year than Chandler's, and doesn't it run for another four years instead of Tyson's two? Isn't Okafor nowhere near as athletic and/or as ferocious a finisher as Tyson Chandler?

Alright, those are the basic arguments that you, (or those you have been reading), are posing with this trade.  Let's look at things from the other perspective now of why this deal could make sense for both sides.

Afterall, a team pulls a trade because they see something positive in it.  Here's what each side might have been thinking.

From Charlotte's side:  Emeka Okafor, Boris Diaw, and Gerald Wallace had a hard time playing together or in combination on the front line because they were all a bit under-sized at their respective positions.  Tyson Chandler helps alleviate that chemistry issue in that he is four inches taller than Okafor.

While Chandler is much more limited offensively, he is regarded as a somewhat tougher player than Okafor, and he fits the mold of what Larry Brown wants out of his Center position. Charlotte struggled to score last season, and this deal does not help them in that department, but it does help out the Bobcat's tandem of undersized Forwards.

From New Orleans’s side:  Tyson Chandler had great fast break and back-door cut chemistry with Chris Paul.  Unfortunately, outside of garbage put-backs, those were the only times that he was able to find the basket.  When David West was off the floor, the Hornets could expect little to no half-court production out of their frontline.

Okafor gives up some size defensively, and he may not be quite as disruptive from the help-side, but he is still a highly regarded stopper that will make noticeable contributions night in and night out. 

Okafor may not get above the rim as frequently as Chandler did, but he can knock down the short to mid-range jumpers, and he will be recognizably more polished on short cuts and with his back to the basket. 

Chris Paul should find Okafor as a more useable target, and the Hornets' offense should be able to produce points in the paint even when David West is off the floor.


Financially, this deal was about instant gratification versus long-term savings. 

New Orleans apparently needed to shed money now in order to stay under the luxury tax.  Okafor's slightly smaller contract will save them over $2 million this year in combined cap and tax.  They apparently are willing to deal with the length of the contract in the future.

Charlotte apparently had quite the case of buyer's remorse after overpaying against themselves for Okafor last year.  I'm sure that Larry Brown's wishes had something to do with this move as well, and that probably made the money and length of contract seem even more daunting.  Chandler is more expensive now, but for a lot less time.

In the end, New Orleans did get the better player out of this deal.  Remember though, that Okafor and Chandler are different players.  It's not as if Charlotte was a team to beat last year, so changing out a major part for something that the coaching staff thinks will fit better may not be a bad thing in the end.

Completed Trade: 

C Etan Thomas & 2nd Round draft picks to Oklahoma City

PG Chucky Atkins & SG Damien Wilkens to Minnesota 

During the 80s and 90s, "Trader Jack" McCloskey earned his moniker through a never-ending series of deals while helming the Pistons, TimberWolves, and Raptors.  The method behind the madness did earn two rings in Detroit, but also a lot of headaches in between.

Is David Kahn trying to earn his own "Trader" nickname?  (Maybe "Dealer Dave" is more catchy, but it also invites too many drug references...) 

This deal helps both teams from a standpoint of needed depth.

The TimberWolves needed a veteran point guard to mentor/backup Jonny Flynn and "Maybe" Rubio.  Atkins is a proven option that has more to offer in experience than Sebastian Telfair did. 

The TimberWolves needed another body at the shooting guard spot, since Wayne Ellington can't play 48 minutes a game.  Wilkens completely underwhelms me as a player, but he can wear a uniform, and thus fills a current need.

The Thunder needed more depth and toughness on their front line, as Nenad Kristic, Jeff Green, and Nick Collison are all slightly undersized for their respective Center and Power Forward positions.  Thomas won't wow anybody when on the floor, but he also isn't a pushover either.


I can't give the nod to my TimberWolves on this one, even though they did acquire depth at two areas of need for a fairly low price.  The problem is that Etan Thomas was the only legitimate Center body on the current Minnesota roster. 

Now the Wolves are back where they started -- they have only Power Forwards (Jefferson, Love, Songalia, & Cardinal), and are going to be asking Al Jefferson to man the Center spot for the majority of the game. 

He can score from anywhere on the block, but I'm still not convinced that giving up a few inches/pounds each night isn't going to wear him down on both ends of the floor. 

In the end, this is a good value buy for both teams, and "Trader Dave" surely has a few more moves on the Minnesota table.  Hopefully all this motion will lead to some tangible results in the long-term.

Trust me on this one.  After all, I am a Doctor.

- "Doctor Trade"