July 28, 2009
It must be awful to be a Charlotte Bobcats fan. I honestly felt for you before yesterday, and I know that you deserve better.
I'm sorry, but there's no way you can spin a deal like this. I've long been a fan of Tyson Chandler(notes) as a player and a person, but even if he roars back to health and plays over 80 games next season (something that's happened exactly once in his eight-year career) the current Hornet center just can't hold a candle to Emeka Okafor(notes).
This isn't to say that Okafor is great shakes. He isn't. He's not going to make any All-Star games any time soon, he's never going to be a comfortable offensive player, and at 26 he pretty much is what he is.
And "is what he is" meant 13 and 10 with nearly two blocks in about 32 minutes a game last year. Plenty of teams would kill for "what he is." New Orleans didn't even have to do that. They're about to send Charlotte Tyson Chandler, straight up, instead of killing anyone or anything.
I get that the Bobcats franchise is on the block, and that they want to get out from under Okafor's contract, which runs until 2014. I also understand that the team could finally see some cap space after the 2011 season, possibly as much as $7 or $8 million under, after accounting for all the lottery picks they'll accrue from now until then.
It's also understandable that some might chafe at the idea of Emeka Okafor, no All-Star, having five years and over $63 million left on his contract.
Guess what? Emeka Okafor is worth five years, and $63 million.
Tyson Chandler? Yeah, he's probably worth a good chunk of the two years and over $27 he'll earn, but Okafor is so much better. So much better. And he stays on the court.
These are centers, and you overpay for true centers. A B- center that can play the position with no worries will always be worth more than an B+ power forward who can't move up. Always. And you overpay and retain these guys so that you don't have to overpay and retain the lesser lights at the position - players like Nazr Mohammed(notes), and DaSagana Diop.
Players that, and I'm sorry for sounding flip, will be spending a huge chunk of time on the court while Chandler deals with the same nagging injuries that have plagued him for years.
It's not that I don't think much of Tyson. There are things that he can do defensively that don't show up in the box score, and he works at the game despite his physical limitations (beyond that whole, y'know, being 7-1 with hops stuff). It's just that back issues and turf toe issues just don't go away. They're painful, they're recurring, and they cut careers short.
Okafor may be sometimes just as prone to grabbing that second quick first quarter foul as Chandler, his per-minute foul rates are about the same over his career as Chandler's have been in New Orleans, but he also contributes more and doesn't boast the sort of injuries that fail physicals.
And while it's great that the Bobcats might finally be seeing the folly of their recent ways, the pointlessness of having always shot for 42 wins and no more, I just don't know if this is the place to start. Raja Bell(notes), Boris Diaw(notes), Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) - maybe. Dump those guys, if at all possible. I know it's tough, but try. And don't trade for them in the first place.
It just bugs me that all they seem to have gotten for Okafor is a shorter contract. Yes, they also pulled a nice center who can help and throw down lobs and expire in 2011 - but that's it? That shouldn't be it. Not for a healthy 13 and 10.
A day later, I just can't shake the nagging feeling that was the initial take on this situation. The one that tells us that the Bobcats blew another one.
Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler. Yikes. It's official.