Give and Go: Emeka Okafor-for-Tyson Chandler Swap Assists Both Sides
Tuesday, a deal was finalized between the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets in which the teams swapped their starting centers, with Emeka Okafor going to the Hornets in exchange for Tyson Chandler.
For a while, rumors had been swirling that both teams were interested in finding takers for their relatively expensive centers.
Just last summer, the Bobcats inked Okafor (25 at the time) to a brand new six-year, $72 million contract that would've kept the young center in Bobcats' orange through the prime of his career.
However, team owner Robert Johnson has been recently vocal about his team's financial difficulties, as well as his intention to attempt to sell the team.
Johnson has owned the Bobcats since they came into the league in 2004.
In his first season under the new deal, the 6'10" Okafor had a solid year, averaging just over 13 points, 10 rebounds, and just under two blocks per game.
Okafor isn't overly-polished, but he can certainly hold his own on the low block, and has been efficient throughout his time in the league with a career field goal percentage around 56 percent.
He's shorter than Chandler, but is just as effective as a shot-blocker and as an interior defensive presence.
Hornets' point guard Chris Paul, the team's cornerstone, has been vocal about his disappointment this summer that his team has fallen behind other Western Conference contenders in terms of competing for a championship.
The addition of Okafor gives the Hornets a viable offensive post option to complement All-Star David West.
He's an underrated NBA player and should fit quite nicely into what New Orleans is trying to do on the floor.
It's a bit of a surprise to see them add long-term salary, but this move definitely makes the Hornets better in the short term.
On the other side of the coin, the Hornets enjoyed a stellar 2007-08 season that saw them earn the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, only to lose in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.
Last year, the Hornets battled several injuries to key players all year long, and were never able to completely hit their stride, earning the number seven seed before losing to the Denver Nuggets in the first round in just five games.
Chandler, who was the Hornet perhaps most afflicted with injury, was actually temporarily traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the deadline last season.
However, the Thunder were worried about the toe injury that had kept Chandler off the floor for much of the season to that point, and decided to nix the trade.
Chandler's contract will earn him $11,850,000 this coming season, with a player option for 2010-11 worth $12,750,000.
New Orleans, like Charlotte, has been quite open about their seemingly dire financial situation.
Chandler has been on the block for quite some time now, and the Hornets were expected to try to move him for an expiring contract to save themselves some cash.
Chandler, though he struggled last season, is a proven, productive NBA big man.
At 7'1", he's a phenomenal athlete, which puts him amongst the league's elite rebounders and shot-blockers when playing fully-healthy.
The Bobcats made this move in an attempt to save themselves some money down the road.
Charlotte will likely keep Chandler through this season.
For the 2010-11 season, however, Chandler's expiring $12 million deal should be a viable trade chip, or they can just let him expire and save the money in the end.
It's rare to see NBA teams trade one starter for another these days, but this move has very positive implications for both teams involved.
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