Just days after the Shawn Marion for Jermaine O'Neal swap, this season's second big trade has gone down. In what is an obvious cost-cutting move by the Hornets and another robbery by the Thunder (seriously, first the Seattle SuperSonics with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, then the Dubs mascot Thunder, then a 26 year old athletic center who hasn't even hit his prime?), New Orleans have added Tyson Chandler to their already exciting young core for basically two expiring contracts (Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox) [ESPN].
I know the economy's bad and the Hornets are trying to save some dough, but this move seems incredibly short-sighted. They just went from being a team destined for contention in the West very soon to a team that will be scratching and clawing to even qualify for the West's Elite 8 this year and probably for years to come. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't like this move for the Hornets one bit financially. They don't have much credibility in their local market and don't seem to be generating much interest. The Hornets should be looking to build a stronger brand in their local city and increase ties to the community. Their eyes should be on the long-term. Take a few losses in the short-term if that's what it takes. If the Hornets had trouble selling tickets last season in New Orleans when the team was an exciting team on the rise, just imagine how tough it's going to be now. They just shot themselves in the foot and have only themselves to blame. Bad basketball move and an even worse financial move.
As for the Thunder- well, watch out. I'd be somewhat shocked if they don't make the playoffs in 2010. Kevin Durant is a superstar on the rise, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook have real All-Star potential, and Chandler when healthy is a very tough big man who can bring the D. That's what you call a real deal core.
This could make things much worse for the bottom of the West in the next 2 years. By next season the West will be 10 teams deep with the Hornets, Thunder, Jazz, Suns, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Spurs, and Lakers. Barring a major injury there's going to be a huge gap between those 10 and the remaining bottom-tier teams in the West, which includes the Warriors, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Clippers, and Kings. It might be insurmountable for the West's bottom 5 for quite some time, but anything can happen.
Words from the Blogosphere:
Thunder trade Expiring Contracts Wilcox/Smith for Tyson Chandler [Welcome to Loud City]
United States Economy 1, New Orleans Hornets 0 [At the Hive]
- YES! Tyson Chandler is back in OKC!!!! [Blue Blitz]
- New Orleans Reacts [True Hoop]