February 17, 2009
The first reaction to any trade that sends a once-studly 26-year old center away from a team with championship hopes usually would have you walking along the dark side of the street.
The NBA's financial landscape is changing, teams are going to have to trim payroll in anticipation of a luxury tax that is going to be lower than the dollar number initially feared, and some pretty good teams are going to lose good parts as a result.
But when you dig a little deeper, this might not be that bad a thing. The economic landscape and what it means for the NBA, yeah, that's a bad thing. Bad, bad thing. But for the Hornets, for this month and until June, this seems like a pretty good trade. And that's a pretty, pretty good thing to get out of a trade that was initially conceived to help them starting in July.
In reality, in the short term, this helps the New Orleans Hornets. And that's a statement on just how poorly Tyson has played this year relative to our expectations of him, and just how awful the New Orleans bench has been.
Chandler's left ankle has given him fits all season, and he's been rather average when he has played. His rebounding rate has gone way down, he's not finding open lanes to the basket as much as he used to, and his shooting percentage has gone down. Usually when you shoot less, your percentage goes up, because you're shooting a more carefully selected batch of shots. Not this time.
Worse than his play, has been his non-play. Chandler hasn't suited up for nearly a month, he's played in only 32 games, and on a team as thin as the Hornets, that's a killer.
I see two immediate ways that this trade is good for the Hornets. First, you're essentially taking in two competent players who can contribute on both ends, who will replace someone that has given you exactly zero minutes since January 19th.
And even if Tyson had been around, because you're the thinnest good team in the NBA, taking in two guys to sop up minutes at a level just a step below Chandler's play will ultimately help more. Remember that second notion, Hornets fans, when Chandler has a 20-20 game against the Warriors in April. Your bench is cruelly poor.
Wilcox and Smith can play. Both are screen and roll masters, Smith can set a good screen and hit from everywhere, and Wilcox is a bit of an Amar'e Stoudemire-lite. Laugh at me now, but get the hell out of the way when he takes a bounce pass at the free throw line and starts driving right to the front of the rim.
Beyond that, the Hornets fans don't have much to look forward to. Losing Chandler, and even passing on re-signing Wilcox and Smith, will still leave New Orleans well over the salary cap. All this does is keep the team from paying the luxury tax, and there's nothing a fan can take from that.
But for now, things could be looking up for New Orleans. I mean that. Depth is a wonderful thing, and getting two scorers who will stay on the court and mesh well with the NBA's best point guard could be huge.
Following the "now?" You're well within your rights to rip on Hornets GM Jeff Bower. Bower has put together a great team, but a lot of that came down to making sure Chris Paul didn't fall any farther than fourth in the 2005 Draft. He overpaid both Peja Stojakovic and James Posey, choosing to offer a full MLE to Posey when it could have been utilized at positions (point guard and center) that were badly lacking last summer.
And ripping on Hornets owner George Shinn, for once, wouldn't put you in the right. Just about every owner in this league is looking to follow Shinn's example at this point, and cut costs.