Tyson Chandler, we hardly knew thee
Well, looks like the Robert Swift Era of the Sonics/Thunder still has a little life. The Thunder rescinded its trade for Tyson Chandler, sending the 7-foot center back to New Orleans because of health issues.
We knew Thunder general manager Sam Presti could make good deals. Now we know he can make tough decisions. Think how tough it was to rescind this trade. Not only do you lose Chandler, a defensive building block this franchise so desperately needs, but it loses, after 2 p.m. Thursday, the value of the expiring contracts of Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, who now return to Oklahoma City. And the Thunder loses the wow factor it received from local and national analysts.
I suppose the NBA still sees the Thunder as a franchise interested in drastic improvement. Ownership’s willingness to take on the two-year, $24-million obligation left on Chandler’s contract was a positive sign.
But still, this was a step back for a franchise that had a long way to go. Losing Chandler before he even was fitted for a uniform sends Presti back to the laboratory, looking for clunkier ways to get this team to stop giving up easy baskets.
This move does all kinds of things. It puts OKC back in the Hasheem Thabeet market. The 7-foot-3 UConn center was not needed by the Thunder with Chandler and Nenad Krstic on the roster. But without Chandler, the Thunder can be interested again, should the Blake Griffin lottery not go OKC’s way.
This move also means it’s MORE likely that Presti can swing a deal for Griffin, not that that’s preferable to having Chandler. Salary-cap flexibility is a wondrous thing, so with $11 million off the books for next season, Presti has more ammo to make a deal to move up in the draft, if he wishes.
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